Advertisement

Phrenology And Danish Romanticism

  • Anja Skaar Jacobsen
Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies In The Philosophy Of Science book series (BSPS, volume 241)

The appearance of phrenology in Copenhagen in the beginning of the 19th century is a fascinating story because it involved many prominent figures in medical, scientific, and intellectual circles. Several factors shaped its first reception here, for instance the general positivistic turn of both science and medicine from the 1820s onwards. However, what foremost coloured the discussions of phrenology in Copenhagen was the philosophical and intellectual climate at the time in terms of Romanticism. The present paper illuminates and discusses the reception of phrenology in Copenhagen on this background. Hans Christian Ørsted (1777–1851) was not directly involved in this process, but occasionally he expressed his thoughts on the matter. Moreover, as his scientific career matured, his position in Danish society consolidated and he came to constitute the centre per se of the literary and scientific elite in Copenhagen around whom the philosophical discussions of phrenology evolved.

Keywords

Faculty Psychology Cerebral Organ Biological Anthropology Scientific Elite Intellectual Climate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    The name phrenology was used for the first time about Gall’s doctrine in 1815 and came into general use in the 1820s. Although Gall did not recognise this name for his Schädellehre, the word phrenology is used in the following even in relation to Gall. Patricia S. Noel and Eric T. Carlson, “Origins of the word ‘Phrenology’”, American Journal of Psychiatry, 127: 5, (1970), pp. 154–157. I further denote authors of Naturphilosophie, such as Schelling and Steffens, Naturphilosophen while adherents of this philosophy and members of the Romantic movement generally I call Romantics.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This perspective can be found treated in A. S. Jacobsen, “Carl Ottos forbryderhoveder—Frenologi og det intellektuelle miljø i København i første halvdel af 1800-tallet”, Bibliotek for Læger, to appear in 2004.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Letter from Daniel Frederik Eschricht to his mother, Paris 8 August, 1824, the Royal Library, Copenhagen, NKS 3100 4°. Jens Veibel Neergaard, Om Phrenologien eller den saakaldte Gallske Hjerne- og Hjerne-Organ-Lære (Copenhagen: den Wahlske Boghandling, 1827), p. 45. Mathilde Ørsted, ed., Breve fra og til Hans Christian Ørsted, 2 vols. (Copenhagen: Lind, 1870), vol. 1, pp. 45, 58–61. Carl Otto, Phrænologien eller Galls og Spurzheims Hjerne- og Organlære i fuldstændig Oversigt og i sine senere Fremskridt med Bidrag til dens nøiere Kundskab og Stadsfæstelse (Copenhagen: Brummer, 1825), p. iv.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ørsted op.cit. (3), vol. 1, pp. 45, 60–61.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ibid. pp. 58–59, see also p. 124.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    H. C. Ørsted, “Det aandelige Liv”, in Samlede og efteladte Skrifter af H. C. Ørsted, vol. 3 (Copenhagen: A. F. Høst, 1851), pp. 38–64, on p. 42.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gall, Franz Joseph (1979[1798]), [Letter to Joseph Friedrich Freiherrn von Retzer] in Erna Lesky, ed., Franz Joseph Gall 1758–1828: Naturforscher und Anthropologe; ausgewählte Texte, Hubers Klassiker der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften, vol. 15 (Stuttgart and Wien: Hans Huber Bern) pp. 47–59, on pp. 48–53.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Martin Staum, 1995: “Physiognomy and Phrenology at the Paris Athénée”, Journal of the History of Ideas, 56(3), (1995), 443–462, pp. 443–462, on pp. 449–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Schelling, F. W. J., “Einiges über die Schädellehre”, Morgenblatt, 1807, No. 74, republished in Sämtliche Werke, K. F. A. Schelling, ed., vol. VII, Abt. 1 (Augsburg: Cottascher Verlag, 1860), pp. 542–543. Henrich Steffens, Drei Vorlesungen des Herrn Prof. Steffens zu Halle über Hrn. D. Gall’s Organenlehre (Halle: Im Verlags der N. Soc. Buch- und Kunsthandlung, 1805).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid. p. 18.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ibid. p. 33.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid. p. 29.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    John van Wyhe, “The Authority of human nature: the Schädellehre of Franz Joseph Gall”, BJHS, 35 (2002), 17–42, p. 38. Michael Hagner, “The Soul and the Brain between Anatomy and Naturphilosophie in the Early Nineteenth Century”, Medical History, 36 (1992), 1–33, p. 13.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    F. W. J. Schelling, Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature [1797/1803], tr. E. E. Harris and P. Heath (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 42.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    For accounts of Schelling’s Naturphilosophie and system of identity see Frederick C. Beiser, German Idealism—The struggle against subjectivism 1781–1801 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002). Elke Hahn, “The Philosophy of Living Things: Schelling’s Naturphilosophie as a Transition to the Philosophy of Identity”, in William R. Woodward and Robert S. Cohen, eds., World Views and Scientific Discipline Formation, BSPS, vol. 134, (London, Boston, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991), pp. 339–350. Bernhard Rang, Identität und Indifferenz. Eine Untersuchung zu Schellings Identitätsphilosophie, Philosophische Abhandlungen, vol. 78 (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2000).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Carl Otto, “Phrenologiens Historie i Danmark”, Tidsskrift for Phrenologien, 1 (1827), pp. 353–372. E. Snorrasson, “The Danish Physician Carl Otto (1795–1879) and Phrenology”, in Wien und die Weltmedizin, Lesky Erna, ed. (Wien, Köln, Graz: Verlag Hermann Böhlaus Nachf., 1974) pp. 146–158, on pp. 151–152 Villads Christensen, “Dr. Galls Ophold i København 1805”, Historiske Meddelelser om København, 8 (1921–22), pp. 217–225.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Louis Bobé, Statsminister Greve Heinrich Ernst Schimmelmann (Copenhagen: printed by Nielsen & Lydicke, 1902), p. c.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    For a list of publications see Otto op. cit. (16), pp. 359–363.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Johann Daniel Herholdt, “Nogle Anmærkninger over Doctor Galls Lære om Hiernens Forretning”, Skandinavisk Museum ved et Selskab, 1 (1803), pp. 215–246. Otto op. cit. (16), p. 368. F. C. Sibbern, Mennskets aandelige Natur og Væsen. Et Udkast til en Psychologie, 2 vols., vol. 1 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1819), p. 48. Gall made a lecture course in Kiel returning from Copenhagen, which was arranged by the medical professors Christoph Heinrich Pfaff (1773–1852) and Johann Leonard Fischer (1760–1833). Among the audience to his lectures in Kiel were several nobles (the Rewentlows) and people in the administration of Schleswig-Holstein. Apparently the philosophical implications of phrenology were not discussed much in Kiel. Soon after Gall’s visit Pfaff introduced “Gall’s most important discoveries” into his lectures on physiology. Peter-Christian Wegner, “Franz Joseph Gall in Schleswig-Holstein”, Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Schleswig-Holsteinische Geschichte, III (1986), pp. 119–141. Christoph Heinrich Pfaff, Lebenserinnerungen (Kiel: Schwers’sche Buchhandlung, 1854), pp. 275–276.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Owsei Temkin, “Gall and the Phrenological Movement”, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, XXI(3) (1947), pp. 275–321, on p. 308.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Snorrasson op. cit. (16), p. 150. Otto op. cit. (3), pp. iv–v. Carl Otto, Af mit Liv, min Tid og min Kreds (Copenhagen: L. A. Jørgensens Forlag, 1879), p. 200. Anonymous, “Ny Hygæa, udgivet af C. Otto”, Bibliothek for Læger, 5 (1825), pp. 335–343.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Otto 1879 op. cit. (21), pp. 83, 205. When he resigned as professor at the university in 1862, Otto donated his collection of skulls as well as plaster casts of facemasks to the “physiological collection” at the Copenhagen University, where they were “beautifully exhibited”, according to himself: ibid. p. 209. C. Goos, Aarbog for Kjøbenhavns Universitet, den polytekniske Læreanstalt og Kommunitetet, indeholdende Meddelelser for de akademiske Aar 1864–71, vol. 1 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1887), p. 452. Snorrasson op. cit. (16), pp. 148, 150. Most likely the phrenological skulls still existing at the Anthropological Laboratory at the Copenhagen University and at the Medical Museion originate from Otto’s collection (some of them shown at the images).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Otto 1879 op. cit. (21), pp. 89, 205–207. Sidsel Eriksen, “Mellem medicin og moral. Eller hvorfor frenologen Carl Otto og rationalisten Carl Holger Visby begge var interesserede i den dødsdømte Petri Worms hoved”, in Historie og Historiografi. Festskrift til Inga Floto, Carsten Due-Nilsen, ed. (Copenhagen: Den danske historiske Forening, 2002), pp. 58–78.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Otto 1879 op. cit (21), pp. 166, 201. See also letter from Otto to F. C. Sibbern 1849, Copenhagen: The Royal Library, Add. 1040 4°.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Franz Gothard Howitz, “Om Afsindighed og Tilregnelse”, Juridisk Tidsskrift, Anders Sandøe Ørsted, ed. 8(1) (1824), pp. 1–117, on pp. 41–42. Determinismen eller Hume imod Kant-Et philosophisk Forsvar for Afhandlingen om Afsindighed og Tilregnelse (Copenhagen: Seidelin, 1824), p. v. J. P. Mynster, “Determinismen eller Hume mod Kant. Et philosophisk Forsvar for Afhandlingen om Afsindighed og Tilregnelse af Dr. Med. Franz Gothard Howiz”, Dansk Litteratur-Tidende, No. 1–4 (1825) pp. 1–48, 53–64, on pp. 4–6.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    The Howitz dispute has been extensively treated in the history of philosophy in Denmark. See for example Knud Waaben, Retspsykiatri og strafferet i historiens lys (Copenhagen: Janssen-Cilag A/S, 1997). Carl Henrik Koch, “Ørsted og striden om viljens frihed”, in Anders Sandøe Ørsted 1778–1978, Ditlev Tamm, ed. (Copenhagen: Juristforbundets Forlag, 1980), pp. 87–121. Oluf Thomsen, F. G. Howitz og hans Strid om “Villiens Frihed” (Copenhagen: Levin & Munksgaard, 1924).Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    H. C. Ørsted, “Bemærkning om Forbrydernes Sjæleevner”, in Samlede og efterladte Skrifter af H. C. Ørsted, vol. 9 (Copenhagen: Høst, 1852), pp. 100–101, on p. 101. Although Ørsted then recognised the existence of individual instincts, faculties, talents, and predispositions, this still did not mean that he reduced these mental predispositions to physical organs in the brain. See also Ørsted op. cit. (6), p. 40.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Ørsted op. cit. (3), vol. 2, p. 91.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Henrich Steffens, Indledning til philosophiske Forelæsninger [1803], Johnny Kondrup, ed., Det Danske Sprog- og Litteraturselskab (Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel, 1996). Harald Høffding, Danske Filosofer (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1909) pp. 29, 89.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hans Vammen, “Grundlaget for det Moderne Danmark. Hovedlinier i Dansk Politisk Idehistorie 1750–1850”, Historisk Tidsskrift, 84 (14. række bd. V), (1984), pp. 23–36. “Kritisk Romantik—Om Opfattelsen af den Danske Guldalder. I Anledning af en Disputats om N. L. Høyen”, Historisk Tidsskrift, 87 (15. række bd. II) (1987), pp. 18–38. Erik Schrøder, Frederik Christian Sibbern 1785–1872. Politisk filosof og filosofisk politiker. Et studie i borgerlig bevidsthedsdannelse, Master’s Thesis (University of Copenhagen, 1977).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    F. C. Sibbern, Om Forholdet imellem Sjæl og Legeme, saavel i Almindelighed som i phrenologisk, pathognomonisk, physiognomonisk og ethisk Henseende i Særdeleshed (Copenhagen: Schultz, 1849), p. 185. Schrøder op. cit. (30), p. 17.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ørsted op. cit. (6)., pp. 44–45.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ibid. p. 54.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Ibid. pp. 57, 63.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Vammen 1984, 1987 op. cit. (30). In the period 1799–1848 the Danish absolute monarchy limited the freedom of the press. The result was a standstill of political debate until the introduction of the assembly of the Estates of the Realm [stænderforsamlingerne] in 1831 as a political institution opposed to the absolute monarchy. Until 1831 critical voices were rarely heard against the existing system as the control of the press was carefully enforced. The consequences of opposition were either exile, prison for life, or permanent censorship. Ove Hornby, “Through bankruptcy to democracy”, Danish Journal, special issue: Hans Christian Ørsted (Copenhagen: Schultz, 1977), pp. 6–13, on p. 11.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Carl Otto, “La dispute en Danemarck sur la liberté morale”, Messager Français du Nord, 1 (1825), pp. 197–201, 212–213, on p. 198. The paper is anonymous, but in his memoirs Otto mentioned that he wrote it: Otto 1879 op. cit (21), pp. 186–87. F. G. Howitz, Ultimatum, angaaende Determinismus og Etatsraad Ørsteds Fortsatte Bemærkninger om samme (Copenhagen, 1825), pp. 50–51.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Henrik Gerner von Schmidten, “Om Phrenologien i Anledning af Dr. Ottos Phrenologiske Tidsskrift”, Maanedsskrift for Litteratur, 1 (1828), pp. 101–110. J. L. Heiberg, “Organet for Saltsands”, Kjøbenhavns flyvende Post, No. 22., 1827. “Phrenologisk Opgave”, Kjøbenhavns flyvende Post, No. 32, 1828. J. C. Lange, “Om Phrænologien og adskillige dermed beslægtede Gjenstande, med nærmest Hensyn paa Dr. med. C. Otto’s derom udgivne Værk”, Telegraphen, 5(1), (1825), pp. 1–16, 78–80. Anonymous, “Spørgsmaale til Phrenologen”, Kjøbenhavnsposten, 1(70), (1827), pp. 282–283. “Dr. Galls Hjerneskal. Gaade for Phrenologerne”, Kjøbenhavnsposten,3(11), (1829), pp. 47–48. “Bemærkning i Anledning af den phrenologiske Gaade i No. 10 af Kjøbenhavnsposten”, Kjøbenhavnsposten, 3(13), (1829), p. 55. Carl Otto, “Svar fra Phrenologen”, Kjøbenhavnsposten, 1(71), (1827), p. 287.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Anonymous, “La Phrénologie ou la doctrine de Gall et de Spurzheim en Danemarck”, Messager Français du Nord, 1 (1825), pp. 136–140, 145–147, on p. 136.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Forhandlinger ved de skandinaviske Naturforskeres fjerde Möde, i Christiania den 11–18 Juli 1844 (Christiania, 1847), pp. 51–63, 78–92. Forhandlinger ved de skandinaviske Naturforskeres femte Møde, der holdtes i Kiøbenhavn fra den 12te til den 17de Juli 1847 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1849), pp. 178–204, 928–932. Sibbern op. cit. (31), pp. 171–419.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    For literature on Sibbern see Schrøder 1977 op. cit. (30). J. Himmelstrup, Sibbern. En monografi (Copenhagen: Schultz, 1934). Aase Nielsen, En sammenligning mellem ideindholdet i Steffens: Indledning til philosophiske Forelæsninger (1803), Sibbern: Om Erkjendelse og Granskning (1822) og Ørsted: Aanden i Naturen (1850), Master’s Thesis, Copenhagen University, 1957.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Sibbern op. cit. (19), p. 48. Sibbern op. cit. (31), pp. 184–85, 414.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Sibbern op. cit. (31), pp. 184, 198, 201–202, 261, 411. Hagner op. cit. (13). Trevor H. Levere, “S. T. Coleridge and the Human Sciences: Anthropology, Phrenology, and Mesmerism”, in Marsha P. Hanen, Margaret J. Osler, and Robert G. Weyant, eds., Science, Pseudo-science and Society (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfried Laurier University Press, 1980) pp. 171–192, on pp. 184–85.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Sibbern op. cit. (31), pp. 182–83.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Otto op. cit. (15), pp. 368–369. Otto 1879 op. cit. (21), p. 208. Otto to Sibbern 1849 op. cit (24).Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Steven Shapin, “Phrenological Knowledge and the Social Structure of early Nineteenth-Century Edinburgh”, Annals of Science, 32 (1975), pp. 219–243.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Geoffrey N. Cantor, “The Edinburgh Phrenology Debate: 1803–1828”, Annals of Science (1975), 32, pp. 195–218.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anja Skaar Jacobsen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AarhusDenmark

Personalised recommendations