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PHYSIOLOGY VERSUS METAPHYSICS.

PHYSIOLOGY VERSUS METAPHYSICS.
By WALTER HAYLE WALSHE, M. D.

"The laboratory is the forecourt of the temple of Philosophy; and whoso has not offered sacrifices and undergone purification there, has little chance of admission into the sanctuary."—Huxley, "Life of Hume."

"It was the glory of Hippocrates to have brought Philosophy into Medicine, and Medicine into Philosophy."—Auctor (?).

"Attendre et espérer" (To wait and hope).—Dumas, "Monte Cristo."

FEW physiologists, mixing in general society, can have failed to notice how common it is to hear their psychological brethren (if referred to at all) stigmatized as atheists; and this alike in coteries distinguished for pugnacious religious dogmatism, and in social circles where indifferentism marks the prevailing tone of thought. The acrimony with which the charge is made apparently increases, on the one hand, in the direct ratio of the bigotry or religious fervor, and, on the other, in the inverse ratio of the scientific enlightenment of different speakers. Furthermore, in certain cliques a shrewd suspicion seems to have arisen that, as any whole includes its parts, physiology in general (nay, even medical science at large) is chargeable with the delinquencies of its cerebral department, and is hence condemned by these judges as a representative in its entirety of atheistic proclivity and purpose. An illustration in point may be found in the columns of the leading daily journal, wherein the reviewer of the volumes of Bain, Bastian, and Luys on Mind, Body, and Brain, "need scarcely say that in all three works the physiological (some would say materialistic) aspects of the subject are strongly insisted upon."[1] No doubt some would say so, and thence at a bound jump to the conclusion (a foregone one with all who use the word "materialist" in an adverse sense) that all these authors are "atheists." In point of fact, the masses are hardly wiser in their estimate of medical belief than two centuries ago, when lay smartness and ignorance combined had fashioned the libelous apothegm, "Ubi tres medici, ibi duo athei"[2](where three doctors are, there are two atheists).

Now, metaphysical psychologists, though inquiring as boldly from their point of view into the genesis of mind, have contrariwise, with rarest exceptions, escaped and continued to escape this form of social obloquy. Whence comes this diversity of judgment? Are physiologists thus penalized because they have shown that a certain definite, if subordinate, part is played by physics and chemistry in the complex act of evolving thought, and because they have thus, at least partially, succeeded in wrenching this branch of philosophy from the nerveless grasp of the pure introspectionist? Has the success of cerebral physi-

  1. The "Times," January 19, 1883.
  2. Browne, "Religio Medici."