Franz Joseph Gall: Naturalist of the Mind, Visionary of the Brain

ISBN : 9780190464622

Stanley Finger; Paul Eling
640 ページ
178 x 254 mm

Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) was always a controversial figure, as was his doctrine, later called phrenology.

Although often portrayed as a discredited buffoon, who believed he could assess a person's strengths and weaknesses by measuring cranial bumps, he was, in fact, a serious physician-scientist, who strove to answer timely questions about the mind, brain, and behavior.

In many ways a remarkable visionary, his seminal ideas would become tenets of modern behavioral neuroscience. Among other things, he was the first scientist to promote publicly the idea of specialized cortical areas for diverse higher functions, while taking metaphysics out of his new science of mind.

Moreover, although he obviously placed too much emphasis on "tell-tale" skull features (mistakenly believing that the cranium faithfully reflects the features of underlying brain areas), he fully understood the strength of "convergent operations," conducting neuroanatomical, developmental, cross-species, gender-comparison, and brain-damage studies on both humans and animals in his attempts to unravel the mysteries of brain organization.

Rather than looking upon Gall's "organology" as one of science's great mistakes, this book provides a fresh look at the man and his doctrine.

The authors delve into his motives, what was known about the brain during the 1790s, and the cultural demands of his time.

Gall is rightfully presented as an early-19th-century biologist, anthropologist, philosopher, and physician with an inquisitive mind and a challenging agenda-namely, how to account for species and individual differences in behavior.

In this well-researched book, readers learn why, starting as a young physician in Vienna and continuing his life's work in Paris, he chose to study the mind and the brain, why he employed his various methods, why he relied so heavily on cranial features, and why he wrote what he did in his books. Frequently using Gall's own words, they show his impact in various domains, including his approach to the insane and criminals, before concluding with his final illness and more lasting legacy.


1- Formative Years and Childhood Memories
2- An Emerging Theory
3- Physiognomy: Facing the Past
4- The Brain and its Functions Prior to Gall
5- The Nature of Soul, or is it Just Nature?
6- A Man of Skulls, and More
7: Of Animal Heads and Animal Tales
8- Skull and Cast Libraries
9- Hostility in Vienna
10- Scientific Journey through Germany and Denmark
11- Detour to Holland, Switzerland, and Back to Germany
12- Settling in Paris
13- The Long-Awaited Volumes
14- Presenting Organologie
15- The Arts and the Faculties in Concert
16- New Perspectives on Insanity and Criminality
17- Cranioscopy in the British Press
18- Spurzheim's Phrenology and Gall in Britain
19- Controversial Final Years
20- A Rightful Place in History
Appendix: Names and Birth-Death Dates


Stanley Finger received his PhD from Indiana University and has been on the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis since that time. His is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Washington University, and affiliated with the school's History of Medicine Program. His focus has been on the history of the neurosciences, notably brain and behavior, electric fishes in the history of neurophysiology, Benjamin Franklin's medicine, and how the neurosciences have long been reflected in the arts (e.g., painting, literature, and music). He has served as the editor of the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences for 20 years; was the first President of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences; and has received many honors, including the latter society's lifetime achievement award in 2016. Paul Eling studied Psychology at the Catholic University Nijmegen (currently: Radboud University), specializing in cognitive; psychology and finishing his dissertation, titled 'Studies on laterality: Controversial issues in the approach of hemisphere specialization' in 1983. After working for 2 years as a post-doc on an aphasia project at the Max Planck Institut fur Psycholinguistik in Nijmegen, he returned to the university, becoming an assistant professor at the department of Biopsychology, and later an associate professor, teaching neuropsychology. He was involved in a broad range of research projects, examining primarily cognitive disorders following brain lesions. Apart from publishing scientific papers, he was involved as author and editor of a series of books, including textbooks in the area of neuropsychology and neuropsychiatry and books on topics from the history of the neurosciences. In addition, he has always had a great interest in the history of the neurosciences, has been a member of the International Society of the History of the Neurosciences, acted twice as Chairman of this Society and is currently; editor of the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences.