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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 ]


phrenology: n. a doctrine that the excellence of mental faculties or traits is determined by the size of the brain area upon which they depend and that this can be judged by the development of the skull overlying the area. Modern psychology rejects entirely the faculty psychology; and modern neurology has entirely disproved the kind of brain localization asserted in phrenology. The practice today is a form of quackery.H. B. and A. C. English, 1958.Phrenology has been psychology's great faux pas.J. C. Flugel, 1951.No one can refuse them the merit of patient enquiry, careful observation, and unprejudiced reflection. They have performed the useful service of rescuing us from the trammels of doctrines and authorities, and directing our attention to nature; her instructions cannot deceive us. Whether the views of Gall and Spurzheim may be verified or not, our labours in this direction must be productive, must bring with them collateral advantages. Hence they may be compared to the old man in the fable, who assured his sons, on his death-bed, that a treasure was hidden in his vineyard. They began immediately to dig over the whole ground in search of it; and found, indeed, no treasure; but the loosening of the soil, the destruction of the weeds, the admission of light and air, were so beneficial to the vines, that the quality and excellence of the ensuing crop were unprecedented.William Lawrence, 1822.SOME distortion is inevitably involved in beginning an historical study at a point in time. In this instance the problem is increased by the fact that the starting point could be seen not only as arbitrary but also as absurd. Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) was, after all, the founder of what was later known as phrenology: the belief that important traits of character can be determined from a study of the bumps on the skull. Phrenology, of course, is nonsense; it has received no serious attention from the scientific community in the present century. To read about it in a book that is readily available today one must look in Gardner's Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, where it shares a chapter with the10pseudo-sciences of physiognomy, palmistry, and graphology.[1] Even in the 1840's phrenology was in such bad repute that Professor Adam Sedgwick felt that he could best indicate his low opinion of Robert Chambers' Vestiges by stressing its links with 'phrenology (that sinkhole of human folly and prating coxcombry).[2] It would seem, therefore, that some explanation is required for beginning a study in the history of science that is concerned with the functions of the brain, with the works of Gall.Cerebral localization may be defined as the doctrine that various parts of the brain have relatively distinct mental, behavioural, and/or physiological functions. Speculative localization of functions, based on the belief that the brain is the organ of the mind, is as old as Herophilus and Galen, that is, as old as anatomy and physiology themselves. In the fourth century A. D., Nemesius localized specific faculties in different parts of the brain, and this approach was the dominant characteristic of medieval analyses of the relations of brain to mind. However, these localizations had three features which fail to recommend them to us. They were ventricular; they were speculative; they were based on a faculty psychology. Medieval ventricular localization was allied with a pneumatic physiology which does not here concern us. Its faculties were derived from the Platonic division of the mind into sense and intellect or from the tripartite Platonic soul of passion, spirit, and reason. These divisions were increased until seven to nine faculties were usually mentioned: sensory perception, intellect, memory, and imagination were the faculties most often mentioned, while attention, language, judgement, will, and movement also appeared in various classifications. The usual localizations were sensation and imagination in the anterior ventricles, reason or thought in the middle, and memory in the posterior. Vesalius began the attack on these notions by protesting against those philosophers who 'fabricate, like a Prometheus, out of their own dreams . . . some image of the brain, while they refuse to see that structure which the Maker of Nature has wrought.[3] Nevertheless, after men had begun to look directly at brains, and after the emphasis had been shifted from the ventricles to the solid portions of the brain, these same faculties were still speculatively localized in various cerebral structures. The issue of faculty psychologies will concern us as we look at Gall's views.1 Gardner, 1957, pp. 292-8.2 Quoted in Gillispie, new ed., 1959, p. 165.3 Singer, 1952, p. 4. On the early history of localization, see Soury, 1899; Macalister, 1885; Pagel, 1958; Woollam, 1958; Magoun, 1958; Clarke, 1962.11The position just before Gall began his investigations can be gathered from the view held by Prochaska. He published a Dissertation on the Functions of the Nervous System, in 1784 at Vienna, twelve years before Gall took his medical degree there. He pointed out that the theory of cerebral localization, though probably valid, had as yet no scientific basis.But since the brain, as well as the cerebellum, is composed of many parts, variously figured, it is probable, that nature, which never works in vain, has destined those parts to various uses, so that the various faculties of the mind seem to require different portions of the cerebrum and cerebellum for their production.[1]The 'divisions of the intellect', each of which 'has its allotted organ in the brain' are given by him as' understanding, . . . the will, and imagination, and memory.[2] However, Prochaska qualifies his analysis by saying.Hitherto it has not been possible to determine what portion of the cerebrum or cerebellum are specially subservient to this or that faculty of the mind. The conjectures by which eminent men have attempted to determine these are extremely improbable, and that department of physiology is as obscure now as ever it was.[3]In 1799, Xavier Bichat, the eminent anatomist whose tissue theory transformed histology, could still maintain confidently that the brain was the seat of the intellect but was not the seat of the passions.[4] This was the state of affairs around the time when Gall began his investigations.Gall's work is the proper beginning point because his was the first empirical approach both to the nature of the faculties and to their localizations. Gall's work will be considered here in terms of four separate issues: What are the functions of the brain? How are they localized in the brain? How can one determine the functions and their localizations? Finally, Gall's method will be contrasted with that of experiment. What are the Functions of the Brain?Gall's detailed analyses of the functions of the brain and their localizations have been totally abandoned by subsequent investigators1 Prochaska, translated Laycock, 1851, p. 446.2 Ibid, p. 447.3 Ibid., p. 446.4 Bichat, no date, pp. 62-3, 252.12except for some very lucky guesses. However, it is still the case that his great contribution to psychology and to the understanding of the nervous system was the thesis that behaviour and the functions of the brain, as well as its functional organization, are amenable to objective observation. Before Gall, psychology was a branch of the philosophic discipline of epistemology, and divisions of the brain into functional regions had never been empirically related to behaviour. Gall combined a principle of analysis into behavioural and anatomical units with a requirement that we actually look to external nature rather than rely on introspection alone for our classifications of mental and behavioural phenomena.Gall reports that the object of all his researches is 'to found a doctrine on the functions of the brain. The result of this doctrine ought to be the development of a perfect knowledge of human nature.[1] He bases his psychophysiological system on the following suppositions:1 That moral and intellectual faculties are innate.2. That their exercise or manifestation depends on organization3. That the brain is the organ of all the propensities, sentiments, and faculties.4. That the brain is composed of as many particular organs as there are propensities, sentiments, and faculties, which differ essentially from each other.[2]As a methodological corollary to these suppositions, Gall makes a fifth assumption:And as the organs and their localities can be determined by observation only, it is also necessary that the form of the head or cranium should represent, in most cases, the form of the brain, and should suggest various means to ascertain the fundamental qualities and faculties, and the seat of their organs.[3]As his cranioscopy or theory of bumps was accepted more and more uncritically by him and his followers, it guaranteed the brevity of attention which scientists paid to his detailed findings. It was the undoing of his psychological and physiological work.The beginnings of Gall's psycho-physiology arose from childhood observations made on his playmates. He notes that each of them had ‘some peculiarity, talent, propensity, or faculty, which distinguished1 Gall, translated Lewis 1835, 1, 55.2 Ibid., I.3 Ibid., I.13him from the others'. In particular, he notes that those who learn by heart with great facility have 'large prominent eyes'.[l] He discovered this same correlation in schoolmates and later on fellow-students at university. These chance observations might provide any thoughtful observer with enough material for a conjecture, which he might formulate as a hypothesis and set out to test. It will become apparent that Gall's method encouraged him to formulate the hypothesis but failed to provide the means for testing it. He could find supporting observations, but he could not falsify it.Gall makes the induction:I could not believe, that the union of the two circumstances which had struck me on these different occasions, was solely the result of accident. Having still more assured myself of this, I began to suspect that there must exist a connection between this conformation of the eyes, and the facility of learning by heart.[2]Having made the induction, he generalizes it:Proceeding from reflection to reflection, and from observation to observation, it occurred to me that, if memory were made evident by external signs, it might be so likewise with other talents or intellectual faculties. From this time all the individuals who were distinguished by any quality or faculty, became the object of my special attention, and of systematic study as to the form of the head.[3]It should be noted that Gall has so far been doing straightforward physiognomy.The step in his reasoning which changes our view of Gall from being the founder of an empirical psychology based on physiognomy (which, as I shall try to show, is very interesting in its own right) to being the founder of a very advanced functional psychology and the modern concept of cerebral localization, is the following:I had in the interval commenced the study of medicine. We had much said to us about the functions of the muscles, the viscera, etc., but nothing respecting the functions of the brain and its various parts. I recalled my early observations, and immediately suspected, what I was not long in reducing to certainty, that the difference in the form of heads is occasioned by the difference in the form of the brains.[4]1 Gall, 1835, I, 57-8. 2 Ibid., I, 58-9. 3 Ibid., I, 59.4 Ibid., I.14Given these two sorts of data-external signs and marked propensities or talents- Gall believed that he had a method for discovering the functions of the brain and their local organs in the nervous system. He also arrived at the novel, and historically very significant, convictions that the functions had to be discovered and that this was a task for the naturalist, not the philosopher. In order to maintain this conviction, though, he had to find an answer to the prevailing belief among the followers of Locke and Condillac that all faculties, propensities, and talents are derived from experience: the sensationalist hypothesis that men are born equal and become different through education and accidental circumstances.We have now raised two issues: the belief in external signs of character, and the problem of the sources of the faculties, propensities, and talents, In order to appreciate Gall’s position on these matters, it is necessary to examine his views in the light of two traditions: physiognomy and the sensationalist psychology deriving from Locke.Duncan, King of Scotland, assures us that ‘There’s no art/To find the mind's construction in the face.[l] Gall would have agreed,[2] but since the time of Aristotle, attempts have been made to infer character (and to achieve insights about the macrocosm) by studying the external signs of bodies.[3] The specific claims of contemporary physiognomist were absurd, but there is something to be learned from the aims of their pseudo-science: the attempt to find stable and reliable phenomena in the objective world of matter and motion which indicate mental or emotional phenomena which cannot be observed directly. It is as an alternative to introspection that physiognomy recommends itself. Gall rejected as useless the holistic and vague assertions of Lavater that all parts of the body reflect all others to one who is observant enough to see, but he did grasp the significance of Lavater’s belief that all truths are ‘truths of the surface’. Lavater could only correlate external signs with characterological observations and believe that he had reliable guides. Gall felt that he could demonstrate the dependence of his external signs on the size of the underlying portions of the cerebral hemispheres. In the event, Gall too was wrong, but his hyphothesis was extremely plausible at the beginning of the last century, and it played a very important part in the transition from speculations about.1 Shakespeare, Macbeth, I. iv. 11-12.2 Gall, 1835, V, 261 ff.; Ibid., 1, 17-18. 3 See Thorndike, 1958; VIII, 448-75; Macalister, 1885, XIX, 3-5; Allport, 1937, pp. 65-78; Lavater, translated Holcroft, 1804.15unspecifiable physiological homogeneity to the experimental study of the brain.The second tradition in the light of which Gall's work should be viewed is the sensationalist psychology derived from Locke. Locke had set out to explore the nature of the human understanding by considering 'the discerning faculties of a man, as they are employed about the objects which they have to do with'.[1] The tradition which derived from Locke's work gave rise to an intellectualist psychology about the limits of understanding, the sources of ideas and the relations between minds and objects in the processes of learning and knowing. The categories and operations which Locke defined and studied were therefore intellectual ones. His first task was to free philosophy from the tyranny of Platonic and Cartesian special sources of knowledge-the innate ideas. It was in reaction to this rationalist extreme and in the name of empiricism that Locke put forth a tabula rasa view of the origin of the contents of the understanding. Locke's views reached Gall in the more extreme form of Condillac's sensationalism. Condillac rejected the second of Locke's sources of ideas, reflection. He sought to derive all the faculties and even instincts from simple sensations, and the principle of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Condillac's method was typical of the sensationalists: he spoke in the name of empiricism while he conducted his arguments by means of elaborate speculations about the successive addition of the senses to a statue.[2] Condillac's method of analysis and sensationalist convictions were represented by the movement called 'Idéologie', whose influence prevailed in Paris when Gall reached there in 1807.[3]It was therefore natural for Gall to express his own theories in relation to the conceptions of Locke, Condillac, and their contemporary disciplines, Cabanis and Destutt de Tracy. He rejected the tenets of sensationalism and sought to replace their epistemological psychology with a biological one. He replaced the tabula rasa view of the mind with a theory postulating a set of innate, inherited instincts transmitted in the form of cerebral organs, whose activity varied with the size of the respective organs. He argued that the senses were the instruments of these instincts instead of their source.In rejecting the tabula rasa view, Gall was not rejecting empiricism. In fact, he argued that it was the sensationalists who had failed to be1 Locke, 5th ed., 1961, 1, 5.2 Condillac, translated Carr, 1930.3 See Cabanis, 2nd ed., 1805; Rosen, 1946; Boas, new ed., 1964; Temkin, 1946 and 1947; Vartanian, 1960.16empirical enough. They had failed to observe nature and to note the extreme variations among men and among different species of animals, differences which could not be accounted for in terms of their immediate environments and experiences alone. There was something 'biologically given' in the abilities of men and animals, and it was this that Gall maintained in the face of the sensationalism of his time. He was not upholding the doctrine of innate ideas; he was upholding differences in natural endowment. This viewpoint led him to reject the optimism of the more sanguine environmentalists and to insist that the moral perfectibility of the human species is confined within the limits of its organization.[1] He held this same view with respect to different species and to different individuals within a given species. The ethical and forensic implications of this position gave Gall much trouble within his own thought, and their recognition by critics had led to the proscription of his lectures in Vienna and to constant charges of materialism and fatalism, which he answered feebly as seen from our vantage point.[2] However, these issues in his thought cannot be treated here. The important point is that Gall's concept of innateness served biology, not revelation or a Socratic doctrine of reminiscence.Gall attempted to replace the speculatively derived, normative, intellectual categories of the sensationalists with observationally determined faculties which reflected the activities, talents and adaptations of individual organisms and were the determinate variables in individual behaviour. In setting out to search for such categories, Gall insisted on the unity of man with the rest of nature, and applied the methods of the naturalist to man more thoroughly than had been done before. His aim was that psychology should cease to be the domain of the speculative philosopher and should become the special study of the naturalist and physiologists.[3] That is, Gall saw the study of the functions of the brain-what is now called psychology-as a biological science. There is no simple dichotomy between a representational psychology and an adaptational one-between the epistemological and biological views of the goals of psychology. Locke and Gall both speak in terms of adaptation. But when Locke does so, he is concerned with the adaptation of the understanding to its proper objects for knowledge;1 This view extends to man's appreciation of the Deity: the pervasive religious ideas of man and revealed religion would have been absolutely impossible if the human species had not been endowed with the appropriate nervous apparatus for having these experiences. Call, 1810-19, IV, 256.2 See Gall et al., translated Combe, 1838; Temkin, 1947; Lange, 3rd ed., 1925.3 Gall, 1835, 1, 62.17the operations of the understanding are performed for the sake of reaching true inductions. He assures us that God has given men 'whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life and the way that leads to a better'.[l] Our senses, faculties and organs are fitted to the conveniences and exigencies of this life and our environments.[2] Locke's analysis is not concerned with what these environments require and how the faculties are specifically adapted to them; it is concerned with the instrument for knowing objects-the understanding. Gall's position on this issue is in some respects a striking anticipation of the adaptational or functional view of psychology which was developed half a century later in the wake of the theory of evolution. The functional viewpoint which Gall shares with later workers also inevitably concerns itself with the adaptation of the mind to its proper objects, but in a wider context; the role of mind in the interactions of a behaving (not primarily a knowing) organism with its environment. The basic issue is not the content of psychological experience but the activities of the man or animal which do or do not promote survival or mastery over the physical and social environments. However, Gall's psychology is pre-evolutionary. In stressing its functional, biological form and contrasting this with the older elementist, epistemological psychology of the Lockean tradition, it is necessary to keep this important historical limitation in mind.While Gall differs profoundly from previous psychologists on the point of what adaptations are for, he is nearer Locke than the post-Darwinian psychologists on the question of how adaptations occur. He did not believe that they evolve through the dynamic interaction of organisms with their respective environments by means of natural selection. Rather they are set for all time by the place of an organism in the 'great chain of being'.[3] This static view of nature was the major generalization in biology until it was replaced by the theory of evolution. It dominates the details of Gall's psychology, making his faculties isolated and independent and leading to a relatively uninteresting character typology that almost completely fails to fulfil the promise of his most exciting conception of the domain of psychology.The grounds for Gall's rejection of the old faculties were that they were neither determinate for individual and species differences, nor1 Locke, 1961, I, 7.2 Ibid., 1, 250-3.3 The classical discussion of this concept is Lovejoy, new ed., 1960.18empirically derived. His rejection of faculties which are normative, or concerned with mind in general, in favour of those primitive characteristics of human nature which might explain individual differences, is the basis for his recognition as the first modern empirical psychologist of character and personality.[1]Gall reviews the categories of psychological analysis that had been put forward by various philosophers and physiologists, with special emphasis on those of the sensationalists.[2] His conception of the domain of psychology makes their categories quite useless. Gall's faculties are designed to serve a purpose quite different from those of the philosophers. He sees the goal of psychology as a differential one with its domain as the behaviour, roles, talents and differences of men and animals. Since the normative psychology which he opposed was preoccupied with mind in general and the relations between the mind and potential objects for knowledge, Gall argues,Whether we admit, one, two, three, four, five, six, or seven faculties of the soul, we shall see, in the sequel, that the error is always essentially the same, since all these faculties are mere abstractions. None of the faculties mentioned, describes either an instinct, a propensity, a talent, nor any other determinate faculty, moral or intellectual. How are we to explain, by sensation in general, by attention, by comparison, by reasoning, by desire, by preference, and by freedom, the origin and exercise of the principle of propagation; that of the love of offspring, of the instinct of attachment? How explain, by all these generalities, the talents for music, for mechanics, for a sense of the relations of space, for painting, poetry, etc?[3]Gall does not deny the existence of the philosophers' categories. They have meaning but only as abstractions and generalities:they are not applicable to the detailed study of a species, or an individual. Every man, except an idiot, enjoys all these faculties. Yet all men have not the same intellectual or moral character. We need faculties, the different distribution of which shall determine the different species of animals, and their different proportions of which explain the difference in individuals. All bodies have weight, all have extension, all are impenetrable in a philosophical sense; but all bodies are not gold or copper, such a plant, or such an animal. Of what use to a naturalist the abstract and general notions of weight, extent, impenetrability? By confining ourselves to these abstractions, we should always remain in ignorance of all branches of physics, and natural history. This is precisely what has happened to the philosophers with their generalities. From most ancient to the most modern, they have not made a step further, one than another, in the exact knowledge of the true nature of man, of his1 See Bain, 1861 ; Lewes, 2nd ed., 1857 and 3rd ed., 1871 ; Allport, 1937; Spoerl, 1935-6.2 Gall, 1835,1, 80-83.3 Ibid., I, 84.19inclinations and talents, of the source and motive of his determinations.[1] [Emphasis added].With the judgement that 'The most sublime intelligence will never be able to find in a closet, what exists only in the vast field of nature,[2] Gall turns his attention away from speculations and toward common society, family life, schools, the jails and asylums, medical cases, the press, men of genius, and the biographies of great or notorious men. Gathering together the variations among the individuals he has observed, and adding to these the results of his comparative studies of animals, he concludes that they cannot be explained in terms of the faculties of the philosophers. In general, he maintains that 'every hypothesis, which renders no reason for the daily phenomena which the state of health and the state of disease offer us, is necessarily false'.[3] It is this requirement, to explain individual differences, that leads Gall to insist both on the innateness[4] and the plurality of the faculties and their organs.[5]Having rejected the normative faculties of the philosophers, Gall was required to supply an alternative interpretation of the significant factors in mental life. It has already been mentioned that he viewed the brain and its functions in terms of an analogy with other bodily organs and their functions, and that his movement from mere correlation of external signs with striking behaviours to his emphasis on the brain was the most significant step in his reasoning.[6] Gall's second, third, and fourth basic suppositions were intimately concerned with the consideration of mind, behaviour, and character as functions of the brain. There are three stages in Gall's thought on the issue: his analogy of organ and function, the relations between this analogy and the traditional mind-body problem, and his reversion to a faculty psychology.Gall juxtaposes his physiognomical discoveries with the prevailing ignorance of the functions of the brain and its various parts. He uses the analogy with other organs and their functions repeatedly in his arguments to establish that the brain is the organ of the mind. For example, in arguing against the view that every other function has a particular apparatus of its own-seeing, hearing, salivating, producing bile-he asks of Nature, 'But, if she has constructed a particular apparatus for each function, why should she have made an exception of the brain? Why should she not have destined this part, so curiously contrived, for particular functions?’[7]1 Gall, 1835, I, 88-92 Ibid., V, 317.3 Ibid., V, 251.4 Ibid., I, 137.5 Ibid., II, 268.6 See above, p. 13.7 Gall, 1835; II, 99-100.20His approach to the traditional mind-body problem is to argue that the soul or mind is not a principle, acting purely by itself, which produces the faculties and propensities. Rather, 'The faculties and propensities of man have their seat in the brain'.[1] The whole of the second volume of The Function of the Brain is concerned with showing that the faculties and propensities depend on organization and that the organization involved is the brain. This was not a new view. It is said to have been held by the author of the first work which mentions the brain, the Edwin Smith Papyrus.[2] It was held by Hippocrates, who identified the brain as the cause of all of the operations of the understanding.[3] In defending himself against the charge of materialism that led to the proscription of his lectures in Vienna, Gall argues forcefully, and in detail, for the antiquity and repeated appearance of the belief that the brain is the organ of the mind.[4] Cabanis had even used the specific 'functional' argument:In order to form for one's self a just notion of the operations which result in the production of thought, it is necessary to conceive of the brain as a peculiar organ, specially designed for the production thereof, just as the stomach is designed to effect digestion, the liver to filter the bile, the parotids and the maxillary and sublingual glands to prepare the salivary juices.[5]However, no one before Gall argued for the dependence of the mind on the brain in such detail, specifically disproving the role of other organs, specifically including all the intellectual and moral propensities, and demonstrating countless instances of the parallelism between variations in the brain and variations in mental and behavioural phenomena. He showed all this by means of comparative studies on animals, the development of children, ageing, and diseases of the brain. Gall demonstrated again and again that the functions varied as the brain varied. It was Flourens, no friend of Gall's psychophysiology, who acknowledged thatthe proposition that the brain is the exclusive seat of the soul is not a new proposition, and hence does not originate with Gall. It belonged to science before it appeared in his Doctrine. The merit of Gall, and it is by no means a slender merit, consists in having understood better than any of his predecessors the whole of its importance, and in having devoted himself to its1 Gall, 1835, I, 10.2 Castiglioni, 2nd ed., translated Krumbhaar, 1947, p. 57. 3 Hippocrates, translated Adams, 1949, p. 138. 4 Gall, 1838, pp. 315-21. 5 Cabanis, 1805, I, 152-3.21demonstration. It existed in science before Gall appeared-it may be said to reign there ever since his appearance.[l]Having established this conclusion, Gall sets out to Systematically exploit it. The whole of the third volume of his Functions of the Brain is devoted to the proof of the plurality of the functions of the brain and the plurality of their 'organs'. Again, he argues by analogy with other organs. If each of the senses has its own specific material basis, then each of the functions of the brain has its own organ. The analogy of mental and behavioural phenomena as functions of a structure or organ could not be fully appreciated until it had been firmly established that the brain is the organ of the mind. When one does begin to exploit the analogy of the brain with other organs, one is led naturally to consider what role it plays in the economy of the organism and its interactions with the environment. Here are the beginnings of a functional psychology, and one can see that this approach naturally led Gall to a concern for the phenomena of everyday life, character, talents, and roles in society. The change of emphasis from a psychology of the soul as an insulated substance, which performs intellectual operations in relation to objects for knowledge, also becomes clear and natural. Locke's epistemological analysis and the faculty psychologies of Reid and Stewart are concerned with the operations, faculties, and powers of mind as an autonomous substance, while Gall concentrates on the mind as a function and considers its functional role.[2]Gall's understanding of the explanatory goals of psychology was immensely enriched by his concept of mental activity and behaviour as functions of the brain. Yet, having proposed the concept of function as an alternative to the old faculty view, he retreats into the latter in his detailed psychology. To be sure, his faculties are of a new kind, given their functional framework, but they are faculties none the less, and his detailed psychology suffers from all the defects of the faculty view.The circularity of faculty psychologies has been recognized since1 Flourens, translated Meigs, 1846, pp. 27-82 George H. Lewes was impressed by Gall’s biological point of view and observational method. Lewes' chapter on Gall in his History of Philosophy, gives an excellent and balanced view of the value of Gall's approach and principles, while rejecting Gall’s detailed attempts at psychological explanation. On the issue of functional thinking, Lewes says, ‘He first brought into requisite prominence the principle of the necessary relation, in mental as in vital phenomena, between organ and function. Others had proclaimed the principle incidentally, he made it paramount by constant illustration, by showing it in detail by teaching that every variation in the organ must necessarily bring about a corresponding variation in the function’. (Lewes, 3rd ed., 1871, II, 416).


Galen,[1] and the point was reiterated by Descartes, Locke, and Flourens before Herbart's criticism sounded its death knell. The form of explanation used by medieval psychologists, by Wolff, Reid, and Stewart, and by the phrenologists has been uniformly criticized by late nineteenth and twentieth century psychologists for confusing classification with explanation. Faculties are only class concepts invested with ' a fictional reality. Faculty psychologists change questions spuriously into answers by animating the operations of the mind or abilities, activities or other dispositions. Such descriptive terms become hypostatized, and take on the qualities of an occult agent, cause, or power. For example, Thomas Reid moves directly from the description of classes of mental operations to the postulation of a faculty or power as active agent: 'The words power and faculty, which are often used in speaking of the mind, need little explication. Every operation supposes a power in the being that operates; for to suppose anything to operate, which has no power to operate, is manifestly absurd.[2] Gall's faculty psychology confuses 'function' as a classificatory concept for a number of related behaviours, with the cause or causes of those behaviours.When Gall explains that a woman loves her children very much because a large cerebral organ produces a strong faculty of 'love of offspring', or that a man can reproduce very easily verbal material that he has heard or read because he has a highly developed 'memory for facts', he is giving no more of an explanation than Molière's physician, who explained that opium produces sleep because it has a soporific tendency. However, in rejecting Gall's faculties as explanations one should not ignore the importance and novelty of the questions he begs and the classification of functions which he offers. It is possible to accept his approach to the functions of the brain and even some of the functions themselves as novel problems for psychological analysis, without lapsing into the circularity of faculty psychology.Leaving aside the problems raised by the form of Gall's psychology, it could easily be shown that each of the functions which Gall proposed as basic has emerged again as a function investigated by modern brain and behaviour research, using the concept and techniques of cerebral localization. There is no point in producing a detailed list of these functions, since variations in the operational meaning of the terms would reduce it to an elaborate pun. However, the point should not be missed that the fundamental functions which Gall derived from his naturalist observations and which were ridiculed as fanciful by subsequent1 Riese, 1959, pp. 22,24.2 Reid, 6th ed., 1863, I, 221.23investigators have re-appeared as problems in recent research. A few examples should suffice: sexual instinct, maternal behaviour, self-defence, carnivorous instinct, verbal memory, sense of locality, language, music, numerical ability, conscience-each of these has had its modern investigators and localizers.How are the Functions Localized?Except for his purely neuroanatomical discoveries, the only indisputable contribution that Gall made to the history of science is the concept of cerebral localization. It is this concept that makes Gall's work classical, in that all subsequent research involved taking some stand on the issue of whether various functions are localized in specific parts of the brain. Some investigators conducted much of their work in explicit opposition to cerebral localization, some accepted a more or less modified form of the doctrine as their basic assumption about the functional organization of the brain, and others confined their use of the concept to a technique for either pathological and clinical studies, or physiological research. The role which this concept played in subsequent clinico-pathological and physiological research in the work of Broca, Fritsch and Hitzig, Hughlings Jackson, David Ferrier, and other investigators in the nineteenth century and its continued use up to the present, will be discussed in the following chapters. However, one judgement by a later investigator may briefly indicate the debt of later workers to Gall's initiative.The minute anatomy of the convolutions was unknown in the time of Gall, and he based his phrenological theories rather on the external prominences of the skull-on cranioscopy — than upon a careful study of the convolutions to which these prominences corresponded, and although his conclusions must be considered in many instances arbitrary and hypothetical, still I would say, 'Let not the spark be lost in the frame it has served to kindle,' for in spite of all that has been said against Gall, and all that has been written in depreciation of his labours, beyond all doubt his researches gave an impulse to the cerebral localization of our faculties, the effect of which is especially visible in our own days; and I look upon his work as a vast storehouse of knowledge, and as an imperishable monument to the genius and industry of one of the greatest philosophers of the present age. The localization of cerebral function may be said to have received the first real impetus from Gall, for before his time no such attention was given to the subject as deserved the name of systematic study.[1]1 Bateman, 2nd ed., 1890, p. 319. Cf. the judgement of Wm. Lawrence quoted above on the first page of this chapter.


For the present, I should like to confine my attention to the role which the concept of cerebral localization played in Gall's psychological and anatomical investigations. The main point that will emerge from this analysis is that while the concept of cerebral localization was central to his theory, direct investigation of the brain and specification of clearly defined areas on the cortex played almost no part in his work. Gall had elaborated his four basic principles and many of the details of his theory before the first publication of his views in 1798.[1] J. G. Spurzheim, his pupil and colleague from 1800 to 1813, says that Gall had 'not yet begun to examine the structure of the brain' by 1800.[2] He had been elaborating his views about the functions of the brain as early as 1792, and gave a public course on the subject at least as early as I796. His views at that time included the argument that the brain is necessary to the manifestations of mind, 'of the plurality of the mind's organs, and of the possibility of discovering the development of the brain by the configuration of the head'.[3] 'Between 1800 and 1804 he modified his physiological ideas, and brought them to the state in which he professed them at the commencement of our travels' (1805).[4] Gall had met an intelligent woman with extreme hydroceph