Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/743

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THE PSYCHO-PHYSIOLOGICAL SCIENCES.

character of our daily toils, and in the too great concentration of attention upon physical sciences, to the exclusion of those in which a psychic element is found. The study of physical science alone is no better preparation for psychic studies, which employ different faculties, than the study of the counting-house ledger or the supervision of a pork-house would be for the service of Parnassus.

A recent publication from Dr. Carpenter, embodying two lectures on psychic subjects (mesmerism, spiritualism, etc.), presents, in the most offensively exaggerated form, the pragmatic pretension of certain physical scientists to take charge of psychic investigations with an air of more than papal infallibility, and an emphatic notice to all the rest of mankind, not only that they are incapable of such investigations, but that their opinions, their testimony, and even their oaths are not entitled to claim a feather's weight before the self-created tribunal of which Dr. Carpenter is the authoritative mouth-piece.

The magniloquent insolence of such a proclamation would be amusing enough, even if Dr. Carpenter were, as he fancies himself, an expert of great skill; but when he is dealing with a subject of which he knows far less than thousands of the most enlightened people, far less than many men of science who are his peers in intelligence and his superiors in candor and in philosophic habits of thought, his insolent assumptions of superiority and denial of their claims to veracity and intelligence, whenever in conflict with his own theories, are all that his most unfriendly opponent could desire in order to demonstrate his utter unfitness for the task which he has assumed.

Passing by his ludicrous claims to a boundless superiority over contemporary scientists who do not follow his lead, we may ask whether he has any claims whatever to be recognized as an expert, whose opinions on these subjects have any especial value. Eminence as a physiologist does not imply eminence or capacity as a psychologist. It is true, physiology and psychology are coterminous sciences; but until recently their cultivators have kept as wide apart as the antipodes. Psychology has been prosecuted as if man never had a body (and ultra-psychologists do not admit that there is a human body or any other material existence whatever), while physiology has been cultivated in the same ultra spirit of nescience, as if man had no soul. So thoroughly does a feeble or a narrow mind, in fixing its attention on one object, lose sight of everything else. Dr. Carpenter himself has expressly excluded the soul from the pale of science, which is the next thing to excluding it from cognition, and one of the most recent voluminous and learned American works on physiology excludes it entirely, and substitutes the physical action of the brain, as follows: "The brain is not, strictly speaking, the organ of the mind, for this statement would imply that the mind exists as a force, independently of the brain; but the mind is produced by the brain-substance" (Flint's "Physiology of Man," Nervous System, p. 327).