|| Home - Robert M. Young | What's New | Search | Feedback | Contact Us ||
Robert M. Young Home Page Index of writings by Robert M. Young Email Robert M. Young Process Press Science as Culture Free Associations Kleinian Studies Human Relations, Authority and Justice
Mind, Brain and Adaptation in the Nineteenth Century: Cerebral Localization and Its Biological Context from Gall to Ferrier
Robert M. Young
[ Contents | Preface | Introduction | Chapter: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Bibliography ]
The history of the localization of functions in the brain in the nineteenth century must seem a truly obscure topic. In some ways it is, but I would maintain that it is of fundamental importance to the understanding of human nature. I am inclined to say this with greater force two decades after this monograph first appeared and more than thirty years after I began the research upon which it is based.
Cerebral localization is the most accessible and clear point where the understanding of human nature connects with the methods and assumptions of natural science. Put philosophically, it is the empirical and conceptual domain within which the mind-body problem was-and continues to be-investigated. It is the space in the history of culture where the limits and aspirations of human nature have been brought into relation with naturalistic observation, correlative studies, and experimental research.
What do we mean, in particular, when we say that "the brain is the organ of mind?" Rather less than we might anticipate, and certainly less than I thought when I began to study the topic. That is, the more closely I looked at the history of cerebral localization, the more it became apparent that it was not the empirical findings that mattered. Indeed, there are really only three fairly unambiguous scientific discoveries of significance to my argument that were made during the period covered in this study: the sensory and motor functions, respectively, of the posterior and anterior spinal nerve roots; the role of the third frontal convolution in motor aphasia; the role of the cerebral cortex in sensory and motor functions. What emerged as of far greater interest was a network of closely intertwined conceptual issues: the rise of functional thinking that developed from the organ-function model as applied, first, to the brain, and then to psychology and other disciplines in the human sciences; the history of ideas about normative concepts of mind-reason, memory, imagination, and so on-versus the sorts of concepts that are determinate for character and personality; the progressive reduction of both of these sorts of conceptions to sensory-motor functions; the role of the association of ideas-in both its mental and reflex forms-in the history of nineteenth-century psychology; the hugely important impact of comparative and then evolutionary perspectives on how mind came to be viewed.
Compared to these basic issues, cerebral localization itself was merely the loom upon which these conceptual threads were interwoven. I shall
say more about some of these issues, but I want to say here that the deeper I went into this, as into subsequent issues, the more broadly my enquiries took me. The readers of this monograph may not wish to follow me in these directions, but I think it worth issuing the invitation. Oversimplifying what was itself a multilayered and multicausal set of determinations, the question of the history of concepts of function led me to spend the 1960s on Darwin and biological explanation. The factors at work in the history of the Darwinian debate on "man's place in nature" led me to spend the 1970s on Marx and the sociology of knowledge. The failure of biological explanation and the study of the ideological critique of scientific knowledge led me, both personally and conceptually, to become preoccupied during the 1980s with Freud and psychoanalysis, i.e., the inner world-the other half of the psychophysical parallelism that was shared by Spencer, Hughlings Jackson, and Freud.
Freud's first book, On Aphasia, was concerned with cerebral localization, and his argument was profoundly influenced by the functional, evolutionary, and parallelist assumptions described herein. Indeed, it was psychoanalysis that first led me to cerebral localization-to a possible natural science testing ground for analytic concepts. I now feel, as Freud came to feel, that the study of the inner world must proceed on its own grounds and maintain its own clinical evidential criteria. I have listed the publications that correspond to the three phases of my subsequent research-Darwin, Marx, and Freud-and wish to maintain that this trajectory is an appropriate development of the study of mind, brain, and adaptation in the nineteenth century.
In emphasizing that this book is about the history of terms of reference, assumptions, and frameworks, I am stressing that it is a philosophical book and is only incidentally about the history of science in the positivist sense. I tried to emphasize this throughout the book by my choice of epigraphs to each of the chapters. Each says, "Don’t forget: we are doing philosophy here. How is it appropriate to think about human nature?"
Now to some self-critical reflection. First, the book does seem a bit pat. It was a neat project to move from the first empirical to the first experimental work in a distinct domain in science. On re-reading the text, I feel ambivalent. Sometimes it strikes me as a well-constructed and finely woven tapestry; sometimes it seems too much so-like a Meccano or Erector Set construction. This influence and that give (presto!) the next chapter-a sort of associationist connectionism in the history of ideas. Then I noticed that there are those deeper layers as well-ones that I have continued to mine in subsequent research and writing.
One of my mentors, Irwin C. Lieb, once told me to read someone very carefully while I was still an undergraduate. I tried it twice-with Plato and Ernest Cassirer. The first always led me to the deepest assumptions (see the epigraph opposite the Preface), while the other provided a postKantian caveat: the conceptual without the empirical is empty, while the empirical without the conceptual is blind. In my subsequent research, I took Arthur O. Lovejoy's advice and explored as closely as I could two of the "lesser thinkers" whose ideas could be counted on to display the spirit of an age more accessibly than could more subtle writers. The specific concepts of Franz Joseph Gall and Herbert Spencer are now almost wholly discredited, yet their ways of thinking have shaped quite profoundly how we see ourselves in the twentieth century. I have no regrets. The American functionalist sociologist, Talcott Parsons, began his magnum opus, The Social System, with the following question, "Who now reads Herbert Spencer?" I do, and, by the way, who now reads Talcott Parsons? The vicissitudes of phrenology in the nineteenth century provided a conceptual laboratory for thinking about the sorts of variables that are appropriate for pondering human nature. My exploration of the strange origins and fates of theories in the nineteenth century has emboldened me to find good ideas wherever they turn up, without trying to be overly systematic. It seems to me that the understanding of human nature has suffered mightily from "system."
In the book-which remains unaltered from the first edition-I now feel I came near to a deep positivism. I privileged the category of biology as relatively unproblematic and, in spite of my own views on the history of ideas, I tended to denigrate philosophy as passé. In this vein, I also seemed enthralled by animal behavior or ethology (see, for example, p. 186), apparently forgetting my own strictures about carefully scrutinising where questions come from. I suspect that in both of these matters I was seeking the approval of my supervisor and mentor, Oliver Zangwill, professor of experimental psychology at Cambridge, a life-long proponent of psychology as a biological science. His views were certainly an important reason why I kept quiet about the psychoanalytic origins of my enquiries and relegated Freud to footnotes (pp. x, 196).
I also kept quiet about my views on the role of purposive thinking in science, though I slipped in a quotation to signal this interest at the head of the Index (p. 273) and spoke of the need for ontological reform in science at the beginning and end of the book (pp. viii, 252). I have subsequently taken this idea much further in various of my writings, especially "Science is social relations" and "Parsons, organisms and . . . primary qualities."
Where I emphasized biological categories in the text, I would now wish to stress moral, social, and political ones. I stand by the quotation from Zangwill with which I concluded, "I am convinced that we must limit ourselves to the study of biologically significant behaviour patterns, no matter how complex their underlying physiology may be" (p. 252), but I would now wish to recast the injunction in much broader, humanistic terms. This has led me, of late, to the study of concepts of mental space and to pondering the genre of biography.
I stand by the story of the progressive reductionism of mind to physiology to which my account leads: "It must follow from the experimental data that mental operations in the last analysis must be merely the subjective side of sensory and motor substrata" (p. 241). My point in bringing up humanism is that I now wish to emphasize how important it is, when looking at mechanisms, to hold the line against reductionism. Sensory-motor psychophysiology was a complete colonization of conceptions of human nature and thoroughly confused means with ends. Jackson's emphasis-as a neurologist-on the sensory and motor basis of ideational phenomena had a baleful influence in psychology. His insistence that one cannot cross over from impressions and movements to mental states made it easy for people to ignore the other half of the parallelism. Indeed, it became easy to forget the phrase, "so far as clinical medicine is concerned" in the following sentence: "That along with excitations or discharges of nervous arrangements in the cerebrum, mental states occur, I, of course, admit; but how this I do not inquire; indeed, so far as clinical medicine is concerned, I do not care" (p. 208). As I said (p. 209), in a period of half a century cerebral localization had moved from a physiology dominated by psychological faculties, but without any knowledge of the underlying physiology, to a physiology of sensory-motor processes that dominated psychological functions and impoverished conceptions of mental life.
I would not now change my account, but I would be more stern in my critique-hence my own turning to the study of the sociology of knowledge and psychoanalysis. Another way of saying this is to look at the subsequent history of functional thinking, as I and others have done. It has produced too much adaptation in the human sciences. The concept of function comes into the human sciences via phrenology (p. 250) and gets fully developed by merging the influence of the Idéologues with the ideas of Spencer. Spencer's fundamental claim: "A function to each organ, and to each organ its own function, is the law of all organization" (p. 159) became an all-embracing explanatory principle in the human sciences. As I have shown elsewhere, this has led to a shoddy, palliative view of human
nature across the board, including psychology, sociology, the division of labor, anthropology, systems theory, Taylorism, and those aspects of psychoanalysis that are called "ego psychology" and strive to represent human nature as a metaphorical physiology. The same kind of thinking has also been applied in some aspects of work on group relations.
The criticism that has been most often and most legitimately levelled at this book is that it is woefully weak with respect to German sources. Indeed, the eminent historian of medicine, Erwin H. Ackerknecht, said:
This is undoubtedly a very important story, and the book an important and well written contribution to its history. Unfortunately it is a torso. Apparently the author is not familiar with the German language (German authors are consulted only in translations), and probably for this reason he does not discuss, e.g. Herbart (in spite of Herbart's enormous influence on Johannes Mueller, whom Young does analyse), Fries, Beneke, Lotze, Moleschott and other materialists, E. H. Weber, Helmholtz, Fechner, Romberg, Griesinger, Wundt, Ziehen, Flechsig, Wernicke, Edinger, Benedikt, Exner and Mach. He also disregards important secondary work like that of Max Neuberger, while he quotes a simple hack like J. Thorwald. But all this is understandable. The omission of Marshall Hall is not.
This last point leads to a second common criticism that I accept: that I have underplayed the role of the reflex concept in the history of studies of the central nervous system. Alas, I am now in no better position to put this right than I am with respect to the role of German sources. I got along with translations and with help from friends, but I still do not read any European language well enough to do scholarly research with untranslated sources. The book was written from a British or Anglo-American point of view, and its strengths and weaknesses are those of a person trapped in the English language. Nor can I, at the distance of thirty years, bring it up to date. Tampering with a closely woven tapestry would produce shoddy work. I have, as the appended bibliography shows, gone to other-closely related-fields of enquiry. I have sought lots of advice from friends and colleagues and have included the references to which they have pointed me. This book was a distillation of a set of conceptual issues. They ought to be recontextualized in the light of my and others' subsequent work, but I am not the person to do it.
I shall close by saying that I am terribly flattered that this monograph is being reprinted in the History of Neuroscience Series. It may be of some use to neophyte scholars to report something of the history of its publication. When the thesis of which it is an unaltered version was first
1 Medical History, July 1971, p. 311.
examined, I was approached by a fine man, J. C. Crowther, who asked if Oxford University Press could consider it for publication. I said no, but he persuaded me that one of my examiners, R. C. Oldfield, had spoken well enough of it, so that it was an appropriate thing to do. Some months later, as I was rushing to a lecture, my doorbell rang. I opened it, and a man saying he was from Oxford University Press held out a package. I snatched it, thanked him and sheepishly closed the door. I intended to wait a decent interval for him to walk away, but the doorbell rang again, and he said that he was the science editor of Oxford University Press, and that they wanted to publish it. I was genuinely astonished and sat on it for five years in the forlorn hope that I would get a lectureship before the book was judged by its peers. I finally had to get it out as part of a (still forlorn) effort to get tenure.
I hope that this background makes it not too immodest to reproduce some of the comments made on the book.
."......this volume is of unusual excellence-read it"
Mary A. B. Brazier
His subtitle 'Cerebral localization and its biological context from Gall to Ferrier' is enough to stimulate anyone to read this book, but it gives little idea of its astonishing content and scope. It must be the most important work upon the evolution of thought upon the results of cerebral function written in the decade now ending.
His book as a whole seems a model for the writing of the history of science. As, perhaps, a good historian of science must be, he is much more than a historian. Of the continuing and current conceptual problems of psychology he shows an awareness which neuro-physiologists who write on mind and brain might be encouraged, by reading his book, to share. As regards the relation of human behaviour to the physiology of the organism he is surely not overstating the case when he writes in conclusion that, 'historical, philosophical and conceptual studies in the interpretation of man's place in nature have a more important part to play than has hitherto been assumed'.
P. F. Strawson
Pleased as I am by these accolades I am most happy to have received one from a former student, Roger Smith, who has gone on to become a distinguished historian of ideas of mind and brain. When I approached him about the reprinting of this volume, he was kind enough to offer a great deal of advice, including the following assessment:
’The book has an organic unity and I strongly agree with the proposal to reprint it unaltered. The scientific/philosophical questions that led you to the thesis remain, though Artificial Intelligence and the cognitive revolution have shifted some attention from a neuroscience of behaviour to other formulations of the aims of psychology. The strengths of the book are surely that: it gave historical recognition to phrenology; it described the historical development of the idea of function in relation to both physiological and evolutionary theory; and it exemplified the need to understand conceptual and historical issues in considering the scope and limitations of scientific knowledge (very characteristic of Cambridge History and Philosophy of Science in the 1960s). Further, as always, you had the intellectual energy to shape diverse and often unknown sources into a firm historical structure. As the request to reprint confirms, everyone recognizes your book as a reference point and it is always cited in histories of brain.
’Yet you intended, and I think would still argue, that the book is more than that: that it is not just an account of nineteenth-century brain theories but uncovers the central arguments in the attempt to construct a science of mind. As you say, 'The history of various concepts of function is the history of psychology' (p. xxxii), or "the study of the functions of the brain-what is now called psychology" (p. 16). The concept of function does a tremendous amount of work, and I suspect many readers have not grasped the abstract (and perhaps overly tacit) normative drive behind this. Your historiography reflects an early 1960s preoccupation with localization as (a) the key scientific investment in the attempt to overcome dualism, and (b) the concept making possible psychology's shift from epistemological to biological inquiry (and again you assume this shift is the history of the subject). You then wish this discussion to contribute to rethinking modern neuroscience/psychology. I do not think these grand claims have ever really been taken up (though of course I am not familiar with the work of neuroscientists). As you know, the whole direction of work in the history of science has been to break down such claims into academic-sized portions and to make the historical questions independent of present science. Thus I think citation of your book reflects its perceived value as a contribution to the history of particular nineteenth-century developments.’
I want to thank Roger Smith, Chris Lawrence, Roger Cooter, and Michael Clark for advice and support during the preparation of this preface and to express my admiration for the standards of scholarship that they maintain in their own research.
Nearly two decades after the book was published, I was sunbathing on a beach in Crete, reading Peter Gay's magisterial Freud: A Life for Our Time. Something familiar led me to turn to the notes, where I found this book described as "a minor modern classic." My immediate feeling was to deeply miss my mother, who had recently died and whose mental infirmity had been an important influence on my scholarly interest in the limits and prospects of human nature. I wanted to be able to say to her
that she had always hoped that I might accomplish something and that it now appeared that I had, nearly half a lifetime ago. I subsequently learned that efforts had been made by Professor James Schwartz of the Columbia Medical School to get it reprinted, but to no avail. I gathered that Professor Larry Weizkrantz at Oxford has also been a supporter of this idea. Then Professor Pietro Corsi at Florence suggested including it in the Oxford University Press History of Neuroscience Series. I am grateful to these people and to others who have written about it appreciatively, with judgements extending from heavily qualified praise to a pleasing number of references to it as a "classic." In my own mind I had relegated the book to a period before my own thinking broadened and deepened from the history of ideas to social, intellectual, and ideological dimensions of knowledge. On reflection, however, it was wrong of me not to realize that our lives and works are more of a piece than we sometimes like to think.
BOAKES, R., From Darwin to Behaviourism: Psychology and the Mind of Animals (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1984).
BOWLER, PETER J., The Non-Darwinian Revolution: Reinterpreting a Historical Myth (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1988).
BYNUM, WILLIAM F., Time's noblest offspring: the problem of man in the British natural history sciences, Doctoral dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1975.
CLARK, MICHAEL J., "A plastic power ministering to organization": interpretations of the mind-body relation in late nineteenth-century British psychiatry, Psychological Med. 13 (1981), 487-97.
______"The data of alienism": evolutionary neurology, physiological psychology, and the reconstruction of British psychiatric theory, c. 1850c. 1900, Doctoral dissertation, Oxford University, 1982.
CLARKE, EDWIN, and DEWHURST, K., An Illustrated History of Brain Function (Sandford, Oxford, 1972).
______and JACYNA, L. S., Nineteenth-century Origins of Neuroscientific Concepts (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1987).
COOTER, ROGER J., Phrenology and British alienists, C. 1825-1845, Med. Hist. 20 (1976), l-21; 135-51
______Phrenology: the provocation of progress, Hist. Sci. 14 (1976), 211-34.
______Deploying "pseudoscience": then and now, in M. Hanen et al., eds., Science, Pseudoscience and Society (Wilfred Lourier University, Waterloo, Ont., 1980), pp. 237-72.
______The conservatism of pseudoscience, in P. Grim, ed., The Occult, Science and Philosophy (State University of New York, New York, 1982), pp. 130-43.
______The Cultural Meaning of Popular Science: Phrenology and the Organization of Consent in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1984).
______Phrenology in the British Isles: An Annotated Historical Bibliography and Index (Scarecrow Press, London, 1989).
CRANFIELD, P. F., The Way in and the Way Out (Futura, Mount Kisco, 1974).
DE GIUSTINO, DAVID, Conquest of Mind: Phrenology and Victorian Social Thought (Crooni Helm, London, 1975).
DESMOND, ADRIAN, The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine and Reform in Radical London (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1989).
GREENBLATT, SAMUEL H., Hughlings Jackson's first encounter with the work of Paul Broca: the physiological and philosophical background, Bull. Hist. Med. 44 (1970), 555-70.
______The development of Hughlings Jackson's approach to diseases of the nervous system, i863-1866: unilateral seizures, hemiplegia and aphasia, Bull. Hist. Med. 51 (1972), 412-30.
HARAWAY, DONNA, Primate Visions: Gender, Race and Nature in the World of Modern Science (Routledge, New York, 1989).
HARRINGTON, ANNE, Medicine, Mind and the Double Brain (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1987).
JACYNA, L. S., The physiology of mind, the unity of nature, and moral order in Victorian thought, Br. J. Hist. Sci. 14 (1981), 109-32.
______Somatic theories of mind and the interests of medicine in Britain, 1850-79, Med. Hist. 26 (1982), 233-58.
JEANNEROD, M., The Brain Machine: The Development of Neurophysiological Thought, trans. D. Urion (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1985).
KENNEDY, JAMES G., Herbert Spencer (Twayne, Boston, 1978).
LEVIDOW, LES, and YOUNG, R. M., Exhibiting nuclear power-the Science Museum cover-up, in Radical Science Collective, eds., No Clear Reason: Nuclear Power Politics (Free Association Books, London, 1984), pp. 53-78.
LESKY, ERNA, Structure and function in Gall, Bull. Hist. Med. 44 (1970), 297-314.
______The Vienna Medical School of the Nineteenth Century (Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, 1976).
LEVIN, K., Freud's Early Psychology of the Neuroses: A Historical Perspective (Harvester, Lewes, 1978).
McNEIL, MAUREEN, Under the Banner of Science: Eramus Darwin and His Age (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1978).
NEUBURGER, M ., The Historical Development of Experimental Brain and Spinal Cord Physiology before Flourens (1897) trans. E. Clarke (Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, 1981)
OUTRAM, DORINDA, Georges Cuvier: Vocation, Science and Authority in Post-Revolutionary France (Manchester University, Manchester 1984).
PARSSINEN, TERRY M., Popular science and society: the phrenological movement in early Britain, J. Soc. Hist. 7 (1974), 1-20
PEEL, J. D. Y., Herbert Spencer: The Evolution of a Sociologist (Heinemann, London, 1971).
RADICAL SCIENCE COLLECTIVE, Science, technology and the socialist movement, Radical Sci. J. 11 (1981), 3-70.
RICHARDS, ROBERT J., Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behaviour (University of Chicago, Chicago 1987).
SHAPIN, STEVEN, Phrenological knowledge and social structure in nineteenth-century Edinburgh, Ann. Sci. 32 (1975), 219-32.
______The politics of observation: cerebral anatomy and social interests in the Edinburgh phrenological debates, in Roy Wallis, ed., On the Margins of Science: The Social Construction of Rejected Knowledge,
Sociological Review Monographs 27 (University of Keele, 1978), pp. 139-78
______Homo phrenologicus: anthropological perspectives on an historical problem, in B. Barnes and S. Shapin, eds. Natural Order: Historical Studies in Scientific Culture (Sage, London, 1979), pp. 41-71.
SHORTLAND, MICHAEL, Courting the cerebellum: early organological phrenological views of sexuality, Br. J. Hist. Sci. 20 (1978), 173-99.
SMITH, C. U. M., Evolution and the problems of mind. Part I-Herbert Spencer, Part II-John Hughlings Jackson, J. Hist. Biol. 18 (1982), 55-88, 241-62.
SMITH, ROGER, Physiological psychology and the philosophy of nature in nineteenth-century Britain, Doctoral dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1970.
______The backgound of physiological psychology in natural philosophy, Hist. Sci. 6 (1973), 177-99.
______Inhibition (Free Association Books, London, forthcoming, 1991).
SPILLANE, J. D., The Doctrine of Nerves: Chapters in the History of Neurology (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1981).
STAR, SUSAN L., Regions of the Mind: Brain Research and the Quest for Scientific Certainty (Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1989).
STOCKING, GEORGE W., JR., Victorian Anthropology (Free Press, New York, 1987).
TURNER, FRANK, M., Between Science and Religion: The Reaction to Scientific Naturalisation in Late Victorian England (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1974).
WADDELL, MARGOT, The idea of nature: George Eliot and her intellectual milieu, Doctoral dissertation, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, 1976.
WOODWARD, W. R., and ASH, M. G., The Problematic Science: Psychology and Nineteenth Century Thought (Praeger, New York, 1982).
YOUNG, ROBERT M., 'The divided science', Delta 38 (1966) 13-18.
______'David Hartley', in C. C. Gillispie, ed.' Dictionary of Scientific Biography (Scribner's, New York, 1970-75), Vol. 6, pp. 138-45.
______Franz Joseph Gall, in C. C. Gillispie, ed., Dictionary of Scientific Biography (Scribner's, New York, 1970-75), Vol. 3, pp. 250-56.
______Foreword, in Frances Hedderley, Phrenology: A Study of Mind (Fowler, London, 1970).
______Evolutionary biology and ideology: then and now, Science Stud. 1 (1971), 177-206.
______The anthropology of science, New Humanist 88 (1972), 102-5
______The human limits of nature, in J. Benthall, ed., The Limits of Human Nature (Allen Lane, London, 1973), pp. 235-74.
______Science is social relations, Rad. Sci. J. 5 (1977), 65-129.
______'Getting started on Lysenkoism', Rad. Sci. J. 6/7 (1978), 81-105.
______How societies constitute their knowledge, unpublished manuscript, 1979.
______`Interpreting the production of science', New Scientist (29 March, 1979), 1026-28.
______Science is a labour process, Science for the People 43 (1979), 31-37.
______Why are the figures so significant? The role and the critique of quantification, in J. Irvine et al., eds., Demystifying Social Statistics (Pluto, London, 1979), pp. 63-75.
______Herbert Spencer and inevitable progress, History Today 37 (August 1981), 18-22.
______The naturalization of value systems in the human sciences, in Problems in the Biological Sciences, Block VI of Open University course on Science and Belief from Darwin to Einstein (Open University, Milton Keynes, 1981), pp. 63-110.
______"Non-scientific" factors in the Darwinian debate, Actes du XIIe Congrès International d'Histoires de Sciences, (Blanchard, Paris, 1981), vol. 8, pp. 221-26.
______Darwinism is social, in D. Kohn, ed., The Darwinian Heritage (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1985), pp. 609-38.
______Darwin's Metaphor: Nature's Place in Victorian Culture (Cambridge University Press, New York, 1985).
______Is nature a labour process?, in L. Levidow and R. M. Young, eds., Science, Technology and the Labour Process: Marxist Studies, Vol. 2 (Free Association Books, London, 1985), pp. 206-32.
______Freud: scientist and/or "humanist," Free Associations 6 (1986), 7-35.
______Introduction, in L. Levidow, ed., Radical Science Essays (Free Association Books, London, 1986), pp. 1-15.
______Life among the mediations: labour, groups, breasts, paper delivered to Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, 1986.
______Darwin and the genre of biography, in G. Levine, ed., One Culture: Essays in Science and Literature (Wisconsin, Madison, 1987), pp. 203-24.
______Racism and psychoanalysis: a loud silence, Free Associations, in press.
______Racist society, racist science, in D. Gill and L. Levidow, eds., Anti-Racist Science Teaching (Free Association Books, London, 1987), pp. 16-42.
______Biography: the basic discipline for human science, Free Associations 11 (1988), 108-30.
______Darwin, in D. Herman, ed., Late Great Britons: A Series of Six Historical Reappraisals (BBC/Brook Productions, London, 1988), pp. 71-86; reprinted in Science as Culture 5 (1989), 71-86.
______Darwin, Marx, Freud and the foundations of the human sciences, Cheiron Newsletter, Spring, (1988), 7-12.
______Psychoanalysis, values and politics, talk delivered to Psychotherapists Against Nuclear Disaster, 1988.
______Persons, organisms....and primary qualities (1969), in J. R. Moore, ed., History, Humanity and Evolution: Essays for John C. Greene (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989), pp. 375-401.
______Post-modernism and the subject: pessimism of the will, Free Associations 16 (1989), 81-96.
______The role of psychoanalysis and psychology in the human sciences, paper delivered to the Zangwill Club, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, 1989.
______Second nature: the historicity of the unconscious, paper delivered to Psychoanalytic Studies Seminar, University of Kent, Canterbury, 1989.
______Transitional phenomena: production and consumption, in B. Richards, ed. 'Crises of the Self: Further Essays on Psychoanalysis and Politics (Free Association Books, London, 1989), pp. 57-72.
______Concepts of mental space, six lectures to Psychoanalytic Studies Programme, University of Canterbury, Canterbury, 1990.
______ Darwinism and the division of labour, The Listener 88 (17 August 1972), 202-5; reprinted in Science as Culture 9 (1990), l05-18.
______Marxism and the history of science, in R. C. Olby et al., eds., Companion to the History of Modern Science (Routledge, London, 1990), pp. 77-86.
______The mind-body problem, in R. C. Olby et al., eds., Companion to the History of Modern Science (Routledge, London, 1990), pp. 702-11.
______Scientism in the history of management theory, Science as Culture 8 (1990), 116-41.
______Psychoanalytic teaching and research: knowing and knowing about, Free Associations (forthcoming, 1991).
But though the history of ideas is a history of trial-and-error, even the errors illuminate the peculiar nature, the cravings, the endowments, and the limitations of the creature that falls into them, as well as the logic of the problems in reflection upon which they have arisen; and they may further serve to remind us that the ruling modes of thought of our own age, which some among us are prone to regard as clear and coherent and firmly grounded and final, are unlikely to appear in the eyes of posterity to have any of those attributes. The adequate record of even the confusions of our forebears may help, not only to clarify those confusions, but to engender a salutary doubt whether we are wholly immune from different but equally great confusions. For though we have more empirical information at our disposal, we have not different or better minds; and it is, after all, the action of the mind upon facts that makes both philosophy and science-and, indeed, largely makes the 'facts'.
Arthur O. Lovejoy, 1936.
This question of origins is more than an abstract discussion of historical justice or truth. Modern psychology (physiological, experimental psychology) is faced by the same problems as all other scientific disciplines. In order not to go astray, in order to find new, safer and more direct paths, she must continuously re-examine her premises. In such re-examinations, it is not sufficient to analyse some recent work; one must go back to the real sources because they are the ones to reveal most clearly the virtues and the vices of a method.
Ackernecht and Vallois, 1956.
In calling this work a study in the history of biology, I am assuming the truth of what I have set out to show: that the history of research in psychology should be viewed as a development away from philosophy and toward general biology. The methods, concepts, and major assumptions which I have chosen to examine are those which I believe have played the most important role in psychology's movement in the nineteenth century from an epistemological enquiry to a study of the adaptations of organisms to their environments. The domain of psychology is bounded by the common-sense experience of the everyday lives of men and other organisms on the one hand and by physiology on the other. More than any other science, psychology is obliged to make sense to the layman, for its explanatory task is to make sense of the behaviour of the layman. Similarly, if it is to be a science it must
demonstrate the relations between its phenomena and those of the traditional science to which they are most closely related, the physico-chemical science of physiology. Its task has been to develop categories of analysis which satisfy both the common man and the physiologist. It has very rarely succeeded in doing either of these. In fact, the most fundamental and perplexing problem in psychology has been, and remains, the lack of an agreed set of units for analysis comparable to the elementary particles in physics and the periodic table of elements in chemistry.
Since the nervous system, in conjunction with the musculo-skeletal and endocrine systems, mediates all aspects of experience and behaviour, it must, in principle, serve multiple functions. A number of these functions are discretely, and more or less uniquely, localized, in such centres as the somato-motor cortex and primary sensory projection areas. However, these same structures can be subjected to functional analyses beyond that of simple sensation and movement. For example, they are involved in the functions of contraction of the triceps, extension of the arm, striking an object, boxing, aggressiveness, self-preservation, and seeking acclaim-all at the same time. The problem for brain and behaviour research is whether or not there is anything to choose among these alternative analyses. If not, then there can be no straightforward 'natural classification' of functions and thus no unique basis for a system of analytic units in psychology. Psychology will thereby have nothing analogous to the chemists' periodic table of elements. Rather, there will be a number of alternative tables, and the one that is used in a given situation will depend on the nature and the level of the functional analysis being conducted. In raising this issue here, I want to allude to a theme implicit in my argument: the problem of providing functional or purposive explanations within the context of Cartesian mind-body dualism set constraints on the study of cerebral localization which were not overcome within the period which is treated here; and, it seems to me, the problem is no less acute today.
Until the last decades of the eighteenth century, psychologists adopted their categories of analysis from philosophy. These were the attributes of mind in general: memory, reasoning, intelligence, imagination, and so on. The present study is designed to show that after psychologists began to attempt to determine a set of categories, they moved from the extreme of allowing the terms of everyday experience to dictate how the nervous system must be organized and must function, to that of allowing the categories of physiological analysis to dictate
the elements from which the phenomena of everyday life would have to be synthesized.
The major ideas involved in this history were:
1. cerebral localization as an assumption about the functional organization of the brain,
2. sensation and motion as categories for the physiological analysis of the nervous system,
3. the principle of the association of ideas as the fundamental law of mental activity,
4. a changing context for psychology and physiology, from a primarily philosophical approach within the static framework of the 'great chain of being' to a biological approach based on the dynamic of evolutionary change.
This work is an attempt to show the relations between these ideas and the various categories of function derived from philosophical speculation and naturalistic observation in the nineteenth century, beginning with the work of Franz Joseph Gall and culminating in that of Sir David Ferrier. The result is a history of the ways in which psychologists related various sets of explanatory elements to the phenomena which they felt psychology should explain, and to the functions of the nervous system. This story is closely linked with the development of methods in psychology, from speculation to naturalistic observation and to experiment, and I have attempted to show these. By the end of the nineteenth century, psychologists had provided themselves with the elements of an adequate methodology and an apparently adequate set of explanatory terms in the physiological aspect of their subject They had also grasped that their field of enquiry was not merely (or, perhaps even primarily) the life of the mind but rather the life of organisms, including men, and their adaptations to their respective environments. What needed explanation was not the representation of reality by the substance mind, but the adjustment to reality by organisms which think, feel, and behave. My narrative ends just at the point at which psychologists were beginning to realize that their methods, their new approach to the subject, and their impressive findings relating feeling and movement to the brain, still did not provide them with an adequate set of elements for resynthesizing the phenomena of everyday life. Consequently, in the last decade of the nineteenth century a number of new approaches-some extending, some complementing, and some rejecting the views of their teachers-branched off
from the parent tradition. At the present time vigorous attempts are being made to relate the results of this divergence: reflexology, behaviourism, psychoanalysis, brain and behaviour, factor analysis, and ethology. It is hoped that the present study can be of use in recalling the development of some of the issues which led these movements to take their separate ways; that it might also encourage the recall of the basic questions, thus prompting a re-assessment of whether or not we are-or should be-still addressing ourselves to them. I hope that I have made a case for the use of historical method in the analysis of current problems in science.
I became an historian of science as a result of my inability to derive a coherent picture of experience and behaviour from the findings of current psychology. I had studied philosophy and psychology as an undergraduate in preparation for a career in psychiatry. While at medical school I was overwhelmed by the confusion in current attempts to relate the concepts used in the explanation of normal and abnormal behaviour to the physiology of the organisms. I devoted some time during my medical course to an attempt to discover some of the basic issues which were causing confusion. A review of current literature led further and further into the history of neurology and psychology until I felt I had identified two crucial concepts: brain localization, and the functions which various investigators had attempted to localize. Localization has been the reigning assumption in brain research, and the history of various concepts of function is the history of psychology. It can be argued that the mind-body problem finds its most precise scientific expression in the related problems of classifying and localizing the functions of the brain.
A regressive study of the literature led back to the inception of empirical localization research in the work of Franz Joseph Gall. I then left medical school in order to work as an historian and trace the development of concepts of localization and of function since 1798.
I have acknowledged all the sources which I have used, and cited the ideas and specific quotations I have drawn from them, but the conception, development, and results of the study are the products of my own independent research. My treatment of Gall, the development of sensory-motor physiology, Bain, Spencer, Jackson, Carpenter, and Ferrier are wholly original, except for the specific information which I cite in the text. It will be seen that my treatment of Magendie, Mueller, the early history of associationism, Broca, and Fritsch and Hitzig, consists of straightforward exegesis and draws heavily on
secondary sources. The assessment of the place of their work in the history of cerebral localization and psychophysiology is my own. Finally, the importance of phrenology in many aspects of the histories of psychology and biology has come as a complete surprise to me. I originally studied Gall because his work was the starting point of empirical localization, and I planned to spend only a few weeks on phrenology. It will be seen that the result is quite far from what I anticipated. In a sense, then, I should acknowledge an important debt to Gall. The perspective on later work which his writings has provided has done more than any other single factor to shape my own view of the domain and aims of biological psychology.
My field of interest has received scant attention from professional historians of science and medicine. Therefore it has not been possible in most cases to extend or qualify the findings of other scholars. There are a few notable exceptions to this generally bleak situation: A. O. Lovejoy, Owsei Temkin, Erwin H. Ackerknecht, Elie Halévy, Richard Hofstadter, Ralph B. Perry, G. S. Brett, Jürgen Thorwald, Sir Henry Head, Sir Geoffrey Jefferson, Sir Michael Foster, A. Macalister, J. M. D. Olmsted, and L. S. Hearnshaw.
Professor O. L. Zangwill has shown a very gratifying interest in the progress of my work. His initial encouragement and continuing support made it possible for me to extend a one-year visit into a four-year course of research. Mr John Dunn is responsible for any sense of sharpened criticism and historical judgement that may be evident in this work. Mr Jeremy Mulford is responsible for the language of those parts of the chapter on Gall which are in English. Gerd Buchdahl, Mary Hesse, and Rita van der Straeten of the Whipple Science Museum, Cambridge, have helped and encouraged me in innumerable ways, as have Sydney Smith, Joseph Needham, and Ruth Schwartz-Cowan. The cooperation of the (now disbanded) British Phrenological Society, and especially the enlightened approach of its former President and Hon. Secretary, Miss Frances Hedderly, F.B.P.S., enabled me to have access to phrenological works not readily available in libraries. Though we cannot agree in our conclusions, I hope that their interests may have paralleled my own in indicating the debt which modern biology, psychology, and brain research owe to Gall. I should like to thank the staff of the following libraries for their cooperation in making manuscripts and books available to me, often for extended periods: the departments of Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, and Psychology of the University of Cambridge, the British Museum, the Royal Society,
the National Central Library, the University of Edinburgh, and the National Library of Scotland. Sheila Young has provided both home that allowed me to pursue my research and many helpful comments. Lady Rosemary Fitzgerald has done an excellent job in checking the manuscript, Mrs Verna Cole has done the typing, and Mrs Marilyn Pole has been indispensable in proof reading and preparing the index. At various stages my research has been supported by grants from the United States Public Health Service, the Wellcome Foundation (U.S.A.), and King's College, Cambridge.
The Human Nature Review © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM