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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/491

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487
"PHYSIOLOGICAL" PSYCHOLOGY

which, I fear, too few scientific men realize to-day. The years 1780-1840 witnessed an efflorescence of speculative thought unparalleled in western history save once—in that wonderful century (422-322 b. c.) when Socrates, Plato and Aristotle secured for the Greeks a far more permanent and formative hold over mankind than was ever achieved by Aristotle's amazing pupil, Alexander the Great. As at Athens, so in the modern period, transitive intellectual personages are legion. Here it must suffice to mention Herder, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Herbart and Beneke. Fichte's previsions of a social science, Schelling's wide-spread sway over nascent physiology and medicine, and Hegel's splendid mission, as founder of contemporary critico-historical and comparative studies that have altered the face of human nature, must be suppressed now. But, for psychology, Herder, Herbart and Beneke present matter of high import.

Herder possessed that rarest of endowments, a seminal mind. His thought scattered seeds everywhere, which have come to fruitage since in philology, comparative religion, anthropology and psychology, to name no others. Genetic conceptions inspired him, and his command of enormous reading enabled him to illustrate them concretely, if sporadically. Under the influence of Albrecht von Haller, the eminent Göttingen naturalist, who founded experimental and brain physiology,[1] he foresaw the necessity of physiological research for psychology. "According to my thinking," he wrote, as early as 1778, "there is no psychology possible which is not at every step definite physiology. Haller's physiological work once raised to psychology, and, like Pygmalion's statue, enlivened with mind, we shall be able to say something of thought and sensation."[2] No less remarkable is the following, in its prophetic insight; "Among millions of creatures whatever could preserve itself abides, and still after the lapse of thousands of years remains in the great harmonious order. Wild animals and tame, carnivorous and graminivorous insects, birds, fishes and man are adapted to each other."[3]

But, admitting Herder's vision to the full, his main title to a distinct place in the historical line of psychologists supplies the reason why, strange as it may seem, we must dismiss him briefly in the present context. The most recondite and, at the same time, most potent onality of self-consciousness roots in its eerie power of objectification. Students brood upon this increasingly, sciences like historical criticism, sociology and æsthetics offering testimony. Men bandy words about the "social mind," about "mob psychology," about a "national or epochal ethos," and so forth. Customs and institutions, myth and religion yield paleontological records, not of individual men, but rather of

  1. Cf. "The History of Physiology," Foster, pp. 291 ff.
  2. Cf. "Vom Erkennen und Empfinden der menschlichen Seele," Werke, IX.
  3. Quoted by Sully in the Encyc. Brit. (9th ed.), Vol. XI., s. v. Herder.