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Though the author of the treatise on The Constitution of Man, says little or nothing, in his Preface to the last edition, of its being considerably enlarged, such is really the fact. Its value is, by this means, very greatly increased; and this circumstance, alone, should ensure for it an extensive circulation: for it is reasonable to suppose, that the additional matter, from the pen of the author, is, at least, as valuable as the original matter; and of the value of that matter, testimony is found, in the large editions which have been called for; both in this country, and in England.
Some of the readers and admirers of Mr. Combe's work, however, have lamented that his allusions to Revealed Religion, and especially to the peculiarities of Christianity, are not more frequent, and more definite;-nor has their regret had relation merely to this work; but has extended to the other Phrenological writings of the Author and other Phrenologists. These persons have desired that the peculiarities of evangelical religion, should, in works on Phrenology, be brought into prominence ; and that it might be shown, that Phrenology and Religion are in harmony with each other.
This is attempted to be shown, in an additional chapter, in the present edition. The author of that chapter is sensible that the subject he has undertaken to exhibit, is there presented only in outline; but as he was, of necessity,
confined to a single chapter, this was unavoidable. If, in this case, he has kept clear of the error which the ancient Poet censures,
“ Brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio;" it is all that he presumes to hope:-at a future time, should life and health be spared to him, he may present the subject of the Harmony between Phrenology and Revelation, more at large. In the meantime, the present effort may have this beneficial effect, (and this effect it is, which he, principally, desires to produce;) viz. to convince conscientious, evangelical Christians, that there is nothing in Phrenological Science, in the least at variance with the Oracles of Inspired Truth.
This Essay would not have been presented to the Public, had I not believed that it contains views of the constitution, condition, and prospects of Man, which deserve attention; but these, I trust, are not ushered forth with any thing approaching to a presumptuous spirit. I lay no claim to originality of conception. "My first notions of the natural laws were derived from a manuscript work of Dr. Spurzheim, with the perusal of which I was honored in 1824. This work was afterwards published under the title of " A Sketch of the Natural Laws of Man, by G. Spurzheim, M. D.” A comparison of the text of it with that of the following pages, will show to what extent I am indebted to my late excellent and lamented master and friend for my ideas on this subject. All my inquiries and meditations since have impressed me more and more with a conviction of their importance. The materials employed lie open to all. Taken separately, I would hardly say that a new truth has been presented in the following work. The parts have all been admitted and employed again and again, by writers on morals, from Socrates down to the present day. In this respect, there is nothing new under the sun. The only novelty in this Essay respects the relations which acknowledged truths hold to each other. Physical laws of nature, affecting our physical condition, as well as regulating the whole material system of the universe, are universally acknowledged, and constitute the elements of natural philosophy and chemical science. Physiologists, medical practitioners, and all who take medical aid, admit the existence of organic laws: And the sciences of government, legislation, education, indeed our whole train of conduct through life, proceed upon the admission of laws in morals. Accordingly, the laws of nature have formed an interesting subject of inquiry to philosophers of all ages; but, so far as I am aware, no author has hitherto attempted to point out, in a combined and systematic form, the relations between these laws and the constitution of Man ; which must, nevertheless, be done, before our knowledge of them can be beneficially
applied: nor has any preceding author unfolded the independent operation of the several natural laws, and the practical consequences which follow from this fact. The great object of the following Essay is to exhibit these relations and consequences with a view to the improvement of education, and the regulation of individual and national conduct.
But although my purpose is practical, a theory of Mind forms an essential element in the execution of the plan. Without it, no comparison can be instituted between the natural constitution of man and external objects. Phrenology appears to me to be the clearest, most complete, and best supported system of Human Nature, which has hitherto been taught; and I have assumed it as the basis of this Essay. But the practical value of the views now to be unfolded does not depend entirely on Phrenology. The latter, as a theory of Mind, is itself valuable, only in so far as it is a just exposition of what previously existed in human nature. We are physical, organic, and moral beings, acting under the sanction of general laws, whether the connection of different mental qualities with particular portions of the brain, as taught by Phrenology, be admitted or denied. Individuals, under the impulse of passion, or by the direction of intellect, will hope, fear, wonder, perceive, and act, whether the degree in which they habitually do so be ascertainable by the means which it points out or not. In so far, therefore, as this Essay treats of the known qualities of Man, it may be instructive even to those who contemn Phrenology as unfounded; while it can prove useful to none, if the doctrines which it unfolds shall be found not to be in accordance with the principles of human nature, by whatever system these may be expounded.
Some individuals object to all mental philosophy as useless, and argue, that, as Mathematics, Chemistry, and Botany, have become great sciences, without the least reference to the faculties by means of which they are cultivated, so Morals, Religion, Legislation and Political Economy have existed, been improved, and may continue to advance with equal success, without any help from the philosophy of mind. Such objectors, however, should consider that lines, circles, and triangles,-earths, alkalis and acids,—and also corollas, stamens, pistils and stigmas, are objects which exist independently of the mind, and may be investigated by the application of the mental powers, in
ignorance of the constitution of the faculties themselves; -just as we may practise archery without studying the anatomy of the hand; whereas the objects of moral and political philosophy are the qualities and actions of the mind itself: These objects have no existence independently of mind; and they can no more be systematically or scientifically understood without the knowledge of mental philosophy, than optics can be cultivated as a science in ignorance of the structure and modes of action of the eye.
I have endeavored to avoid all religious controversy. “ The object of Moral Philosophy,” says Mr. Stewart, " is to ascertain the general rules of a wise and virtuous conduct in life, in so far as these rules may be discovered by the unassisted light of nature; that is, by an examination of the principles of the human constitution, and of the circumstances in which Man is placed."* By following this method of inquiry, Dr. Hutcheson, Dr. Adam Smith, Dr. Reid, Mr. Stewart, and Dr. Thomas Brown, have, in succession, produced highly interesting and instructive works on Moral Science; and the present Essay is a humble attempt to pursue the same plan, with the aid of the new lights afforded by Phrenology. I confine observations exclusively to Man as he exists in the present world, and beg that, in perusing the subsequent pages, this explanation may be constantly kept in view. In consequence of forgetting it, my language has occasionally been misapprehended, and my objects misrepresented. When I speak of man’s “highest interest,” for example, as on page 7, and in other places, I uniformly refer to man as he exists in this world; but as the same God presides over both the temporal and the eternal interests of the human race, it seems to me demonstrably certain, that what is conducive to the one, will in no instance impede the other, but will in general be favorable to it also. This work, however, does not directly embrace the interests of eternity. These belong to the department of theology, and demand a different line of investigation; I confine myself exclusively to moral philosophy.
Since the first Edition of this work appeared, on 9th June 1828, additional attention has been paid to the study of the laws of Nature, and their importance has been more generally recognised. In "A Discourse on the Studies of the University, by Adam Sedgwick, M. A. &c." of which
* Outlines of Moral Philosophy, p. 1.