Phrenology -- By: Enoch Pond

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 010:40 (Oct 1853)
Article: Phrenology
Author: Enoch Pond


Enoch Pond

It is now half a century, since the public began to hear about phrenology. Indeed, the elements of this science, if science it be, were discovered at a much earlier period. Aristotle speaks of the brain as a congeries of organs, and assigns to different portions of it particular mental Functions. The anterior part he apportions to common sense; the middle region to imagination, judgment and reflection; and the posterior to memory. Galen was acquainted

with the speculations of Aristotle, and seems to have adopted them. Nemesius, a Christian bishop in the reign of Theodosius, taught that the sensations had their origin in the anterior ventricle of the brain, memory in the middle, and understanding in the posterior ventricle. Albertus Magnus, in the thirteenth century, speculated learnedly on this subject, and mapped out the supposed seats of the different faculties upon the head, after the manner of our modern phrenologists; though differing from them entirely as to the localities of the several organs.

John Baptist de la Porta, an Italian philosopher of the sixteenth century, resumed the subject, and pursued it further than any one who had preceded him. He maintains that the intellectual and moral faculties of every man may be gathered from his bodily configuration. Every lineament of the face, and every member of the body, even the fingers and nails, bear testimony to the qualities of the mind and heart. He lays the greatest stress, however, upon the form of the cranium, and for this reason: “The form of the brain depends upon the form of the skull; and hence a deficiency in any part of the skull indicates a deficiency in the corresponding part of the brain, and a feebleness of the faculties which have their seat in that portion.” This is very like one of the fundamental positions of modern phrenology.2

About the middle of the seventeenth century, Dr. Thomas Willis of Oxford published a work, in which he asserts that the corpora striata are the seat of perception; the medullary part of the brain that of memory and imagination; the corpus callosum that of reflection; while the cerebellum contains the principle of voluntary motion.

From the statements here made, it will be seen how difficult it is for those who are agreed in assigning particular faculties of the mind to different portions of the brain, to fix upon the specific localities of each. One places memory in the middle of the head; another in the hinder part. One assigns the anterior portion of the brain to the sensations, and the posterior to the understanding; while ...

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