the very few who cultivate that specialty, to enable them to formulate principles for the scientific study of that most important product of the human brain human—testimony. If, then, Bacon and Descartes, Hume and Hamilton, Whewell and Jevons, Greenleaf and Wharton, have failed to adapt their analyses of the principles of evidence to the needs of our time, their failure is due to the backwardness of physiology and pathology that must constitute the basis of the study of evidence, and on which the foundations for a reconstruction must be laid.
We do not yet know all of the human brain, either in health or disease; but our knowledge of it is sufficiently advanced to make it possible to see, with considerable clearness, its relation to testimony. If we do not know just how the cerebral cells evolve thought, we do know that thought is evolved by them or through them, and that various diseases of the brain and nervous system—now pretty well understood, but of which, twenty years ago, little or nothing was known—may utterly destroy the objective worth of thought, and render it, scientifically speaking, valueless.
The progress of cerebro-physiology and pathology, in recent times, has been mostly along the line of the Involuntary Life—a phrase which I have elsewhere and often used to designate those phenomena of mind or body, or of both, in their reciprocal relations, that are independent of will or consciousness, or of both. This Involuntary Life is the branch of physiology that has been least studied and least understood; its importance, however, is supreme, not only in itself, but on account of its relations to all other sciences. It is the one strategic point of modern thought, around which all the leaders in controversy are unconsciously gathering, and for the possession of which opposing hosts will soon contend. Here, as I have previously shown, is the last stand of modern delusions, of every name and form.
The scientific study of human testimony requires a recognition of these three facts, in the physiology and pathology of the brain:
1. The Limitations of the Human Brain in Health.—Literature is so crowded with laudations of the human intellect, from the classic apostrophe of Hamlet—"What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god!"—down to the motto of Sir William Hamilton: "On earth there is nothing great but man; in man is nothing great but mind;" and so strong is the tendency in man to view himself from one side only, and to compare himself with the lower animals, or even with inorganic matter, that we are scarcely prepared for the conclusion to which a scientific study of the subject compels us, that, considered from all points of view—from what is above and beyond it, as well as from what is below and near it, from the aspirations that can never be realized, the vast but simple problems of the universe that it hopelessly strives to
- "The Scientific Basis of Delusions; or, a New Theory of Trance," etc., 1877.