Physiological Psychology -- By: Henry H. Beach

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 070:279 (Jul 1913)
Article: Physiological Psychology
Author: Henry H. Beach


Physiological Psychology1

Henry H. Beach

From Leucippus to Herbert Spencer, atomists and evolutionists have ever produced some form of physiological psychology. The Zeitgeist has, however, so rapidly discounted extreme evolution — the lay figure around which physiological psychology has lately been built — that it may be ignored.

Speaking by ages, who is guilty? Have the hoi polloi transmuted philosophy into dirt? We do not hear any other system of mental science knocking at the door. Who is teaching it? In 1893, William James, Professor of Psychology in Harvard University, wrote: “Psychology is on the materialistic tack and ought, in the interest of ultimate success, to be allowed full headway even by those who are certain she will never fetch the port without putting down the helm once more.”2 No one will dispute that it ought to be given “full headway,” “for ultimate success,” but we confess little sympathy with the “baby act.” Is it too much to ask that teachers of psychology, after so long a time and at so great expense, cease to mislead radiant and ingenuous life?

Organism and Life

The organism houses the life. The destruction of a room

or two may not oust the tenant; but this, or other shock, tends to his ejectment.

Agreeably with the current report that Dr. A. Carrel, of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, had succeeded in isolating the heart of a chicken, and had been awarded the Nobel prize, the writer of this paper communicated with Dr. Carrel, asking the question, “Do your experiments lead you to think that any organ of chicken or man is necessarily vital? “The answer was braver than the question. He replied: “The life of the individual is the result of the coordination of many of the parts of the organism, some of these being more necessary than others. The life of every part can go on, under the proper conditions, when it is isolated from the organism.” We differentiate brute life as the sum of the forces which pervade the organism, causes it to grow, preserves it from decay, is conscious and thinks — the slightest cognitive touch of subject and object. Even Charles Darwin’s progenitor, an ascidian larva, would writhe were it impaled on a fishhook; and human life as the sum of the forces which pervade the organism, causes it to grow, preserves it from decay, is conscious, thinks and is religious. Probably no man objects to these distinctions as including too much or too little; and from Dr. Carrel’s experiments, corroborated by Paris surgeons, we draw these conclus...

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