Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/77

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By Professor R. M. WENLEY



THIS brings us at length to the true physiological line, and to the rapid assimilation of psychology to positive science. The starting point lies in that French group whom Napoleon nicknamed contemptuously, les Idéologues: Cabanis, de Tracy, Laromiguière, and Maine de Biran.[1] Cabanis and de Tracy were the leaders in all essentials. Their movement formed part of the mighty revolutionary upheaval. By analysis of sensations and ideas they proposed to discover a method of remoulding society, government and education for practical purposes. De Tracy (1754-1836) elaborated what Beneke would have termed the "inner" side of ideology. His noteworthy efforts lie in the fields of language, grammar and logic, of economics and government, of morals and education. Yet the influence of science upon him, as upon his fellows, produced results that should receive notice here. He anticipated Comte in the view that knowledge, properly so called, consists in an organized system of the sciences; "positive science," as he declares, and to him, more than to Comte and his pupils, we owe this term, now beatified. In the second place, and coming to the physiological reference, he was the first to recognize the importance of muscular activity as a factor in consciousness.[2] This formed his point of contact with Cabanis, who studied what Beneke would have called the "outer"—the physiological accompaniments of psychological processes.

Cabanis (1757-1808) inherited the English sensational tendencies represented in France by Condillac, but he added that acquaintance with the human body which he acquired as a physician. In his person the philosophical and physiological lines coincided. His principal work, "Rapports du Physique et du Morale de l'Homme," grew out of a series of papers read before the French Institute and published in its proceedings for 1798-99. So far as he possessed any consistent philosophical standpoint, Cabanis was a pantheist (and, in speculative physiology, therefore, a vitalist), as his posthumous "Lettres sur les Causes premieres" (1824) and his discussion of the Stoics in the

  1. Cf "Les Ideologues," Fr. Picavet (1891).
  2. Ibid., pp. 377, 337 f.