Typos p. 242, n. 1: Wolfe [= Woolf]
Findings Applicable to the Two Sexes Respectively
- p. 239 -
Physiognomy, Human Points and Morphology, Avenues of
Approach from the Visible to the Invisible. What is Normal?
In his PHYSIOGNOMY, Aristotle says: "It appears, however, to me that the soul and the body sympathise with each other; and when the habit of the soul suffers a mutation in quality, it also changes the form of the body. Again the form () of the body, when changed in quality, changes also the habit of the soul." 1
Thus despite the crass errors of his spiritual grandfather, Socrates, Aristotle was still able to hold the ancient healthy view that body and mind body and soul if you will could not be separated and that any change in the one indicated a change in the other.
As I have already pointed out, science is gradually returning to this sane view, which, for over two thousand years in Europe has, owing to Socratic and Christian influence, been suppressed as impious.
It now behoves me, therefore, to consider more closely the data relating to this inseparableness of mind and body, and the signs of mind and body which reveal correlation. For, if the reader is to use his eyes, ears and general observation with any hope of forming accurate judgments, he must command the knowledge that is now accumulating regarding "human points" and human psychology, and the possible correlation of the two.
All characteristics of the body point to characteristics of the mind, and vice versâ. This is inevitable if we regard Man as a psychosome, indivisible and unsegmentable. But although many of the psycho-physical correlations are known, many are not known. Those that are unknown, however, should not make us doubt the inevitability of the connexion between the visible and the invisible, but merely lead us to conclude that, sooner or later, even the unknown must become known.
1 Trans. as before. Chap. VI. See also pp. 155164 ante.
When, as in Anstey's VICE VERSÂ, we find a youth talking and behaving like a man of forty, and a man of forty behaving like a youth, the phenomenon is so strange, so funny that it becomes farcical and we roar with laughter. Why? Because the rule, which we instinctively know to be a rule, that body and mind are wholly interdependent, has been broken; and in Mr. Bultitude as Tom, the mind seems to have matured without the body, while in Tom as Mr. Bultitude, the body seems to have matured without the mind.' 1
We also see the mind and character of people change as their body changes, long after maturity. The mind of a man of seventy-five is not what it was at forty. Neither is his body.
We see differences of mind in our friends. But we never see such differences unaccompanied by physical differences, although we may be unable to tell the connexion between the two. We see sickness change the mind just as it changes the body, and in the case of the body developing an unusually high temperature, the mind actually becomes temporarily unhinged. The mind of a person troubled even with some merely sub-acute and chronic disease, such as catarrh of the biliary duct, which induces a constant state of mild jaundice, is not the mind of a healthy person, nor is it the mind of the sufferer himself before he contracted the chronic catarrh.
We also see differences between people with normally functioning bodies and people with abnormally functioning bodies.
1 Anstey's VICE VERSÂ is a bad pitfall for Socratics and Christians; for, strictly speaking, they should see nothing grotesque or funny in the situations of this book, where mind is constantly represented as independent of body. If the average Christian were not merely using his morbid doctrines for reasons of his own, and if he had genuinely abandoned his instinctive belief in the dependence of mind (psyche) on body (soma), he would see nothing funny in VICE VERSÂ. The fact that he always laughs over the book, shows what a fraud his professed belief in the separableness of mind and body actually is. He evidently holds the view merely as a useful weapon.
We also see mental differences between the beautiful and the ugly, the sound and the crippled, the blind and the sighted, and so on.
We are reminded almost daily too of the influence on disposition, mind and character exerted by the internal secretions of certain endocrine glands. We notice the marked changes in mind or soul which result in boys and girls from the gradual development of the sexual glands, with their internal secretions. The youth and the maid, who yesterday were still romping children, become at puberty either religious, or libidinous, or unusually vain of their persons, or sentimental, or poetical, or melancholy, or meditative and pensive.
We also see changes of mind in people whose sexual glands are either declining in vigour, or else altogether defunct. The joyful sensualist of yesterday becomes the Puritan, or the voyeur, or the rigid moralist of to-day. The matron of fifty-five years of age is impatient with her daughters for being "so fond of the boys," and cannot understand their constant preoccupation with the other sex. She thinks there are "higher" things in the world, the beauties of poetry, music, literature, religion, nature. She herself loves to study the birds.
All this is not crude materialism, nor is it refuted by the Christian's charge that it is. For, in the first place it is all the outcome of common, daily observation, devoid of any philosophical bias, and secondly, we are not placing matter above mind (or soul); we simply claim that the invisible aspects of a person are inseparable from and dependent upon his visible aspects.
We are not, therefore, merely reversing the Christian's basic error by placing the accent chiefly on body; we say simply that, just as a bugle and its peculiar note are inseparable and interdependent, and that any alteration in the form of the bugle modifies its note, so the visible aspects of a person and the peculiar note he emits (his mind or soul), when the breath of life passes through him, are inseparable and interdependent, and that any modification of his form leads to a corresponding change in his note, mind or soul.
It is quite impossible, therefore, to separate the mind or soul
This, however, does not mean that we can plot out a map of a person and describe him exhaustively in soul or mind terms from his physical or visible characteristics.
As I said above, certain correlations are known, but the majority are unknown, and it is better to be frank about this ignorance.
I agree with Professor G. Ewald who remarks, on the sciences correlating morphology and psyche: "We cannot expect to receive a perfectly delineated structure; on the contrary, we must understand that we are concerned in these sciences with incompletely built-up skeletons, and that we are not in a position to go beyond a few main points and fundamental lines of direction." 2
As an example of how difficult the problem of physiognomy, or of the correlation of physical and psychical points, is, I would refer to the cat. There are probably few animals so highly standardized in morphology as the domestic cat, and yet, although I have now been breeding them for fourteen years, I constantly find peculiar character traits in each cat born from my dams, even to the point of being able to discern marked differences of voice. I do not mean that individual morphological differences are absent in the domestic cat; but they are certainly subtle and hard to discern.
When, therefore, we remember that modern man is a much more complicated creature, whose individual characteristics are far a more numerous, and who, as a species, is, as I have already pointed out, composed of the most highly differentiated individuals, it is only right to be modest in our pretensions, and to recognize the present limits to our possible knowledge of psycho-physical correlations, while at the same time resolutely keeping at arm's length and strenuously resisting all those Socratic and Christian sophists, who would fain use the bewildering complexity
1 This does not prevent thousands of modern people from doing so. A recent example is the very silly novel ORLANDO, by Virginia Wolfe, in which a creature the hero-heroine of the story changes from a male to a female and back again, without any apparent change of mind. And yet, in spite of the glaring absurdity of its theme, Orlando had a vogue among the completely Socraticized and Christianized middle-classes of England; probably owing to its typical feminist error of supposing that the morphological differences between the sexes involve no psychological differences.
2 K.U.C. DIE KÖRPERLICHEN GRUNDLAGEN DES CHARACTERS, p. 50.
Personally I have no doubt that, if Socratic philosophy and Christianity had not for over two thousand years made a science of physiognomy impossible, by denying all connexion between the so-called body (soma) and the so-called mind (psyche) we should now be in possession of an amount of data dealing with psycho-physical correlations which would set the matter entirely beyond question. But what we already know as quite substantial, though in building on this foundation we must exercise the utmost caution.
At this stage, therefore, it is not merely unjustifiable and unscientific, but actually unfriendly to the cause of these new sciences to follow the Aristotelian and Lavateran line of trying to connect every feature with its supposed corresponding mental quality. The public, unfortunately, like this method, and imagine they are receiving sound and reliable information, when they are told that long eyelashes mean fidelity, long upper lips dramatic power, and small ears observation, or what not. They do not appreciate as much more valuable, less specific indications, which, while based on more scientific foundations, seem too generalized to be of everyday use. As it happens, however, nobody to-day can honestly tread the path of the popular physiognomist, with any pretence at scientific justification, and the sooner the public understand this, and learn to be content with the more meagre but much more trustworthy supply of generalizations science can supply, the better will it be, especially as there is every hope of this meagre and trustworthy supply becoming greater.
Kretschmer puts the case rather well when he says: "The old physiognomy, like modern popular physiognomists, goes to enormous pains to show the connexion between bodily features and these completely formed secondary attributes of character [he is referring to the majority of apparent qualities which he says are merely adaptations and not basic to the personality. But his remarks apply generally]; for instance, they seek a saintly or a devilish constitution, or find bodily correlations for nobility, philanthropy, miserliness, pride, vanity, suspicion, religiosity. But this path is impracticable. . . . Behind this external façade, however, there lies the real primitive core of personality, as it has been handed down unalterably through inherited dispositions. To anybody trained in scientific and
Although I accept this statement as defining our limitations at present, I see no reason why it should be more than temporarily true, and I emphatically deny one of its claims.
It is important to emphasize, as Kretschmer does, that a number of characteristics are reactions or adaptations. But let us carefully make up our minds what we mean when we do emphasize this point. When we see a cat turn and defy a pursuer, we certainly behold an act of adaptation and reaction to environment; but it is one dependent upon cat nature. We should be surprised to see a rabbit or a rat behave in this way. Trusting to its claws and its formidable defence tactics, the cat, however, will stand if it is chased and no tree is close at hand. In similar circumstances the dog will, if possible, take flight, because it knows fleetness is its best-tried resource in danger.
To say that the majority of characteristics are merely adaptations to environment, therefore, is to state the case misleadingly. One man does not react as another does. The reaction is dependent on an innate equipment. Six children brought up in an atmosphere of art and with the activity of picture-painting constantly proceeding under their eyes, do not all take to art. Only those react positively to the environment who are naturally gifted; and even if all six did react positively, we know that each would react differently.
When Kretschmer says that the majority of apparent qualities are mere adaptations and not basic to the personality, we know what he means; but let us be sure that we know exactly what he means. I take it that he means this in an environment (if such can be imagined) which gives a child no opportunity whatever to steal, a propensity to steal might conceivably remain for ever hidden or latent. In which case we might say the child's honesty was merely an adaptation to environment and not basic in its personality.
That there is a certain number of such and similar cases, no one can deny. Thousands of women, for instance, probably
1 G.M., p. 57.
A truer statement of the case would be that, as a general rule, particular human qualities and characteristics are reactions to environment, but only the fewest of such qualities or characteristics are not basic to the personality. What environment does is not to create a quality or characteristic in a person, but to pick it out for development, and to fail to pick out other qualities. This would be consonant with what we already know regarding identical twins, and it is also entirely in accord with Darwin's profound remarks in regard to adaptation and variation: "There are two factors," he says, "namely, the nature of the organism, and the nature of the conditions. The former seems to be much the more important." 1
So that we must regard Kretschmer's statement that the majority of apparent qualities are mere adaptations, not basic to the personality, as exaggerated. The fact that a quality is an adaptation is no proof of its not being also basic. It may or may not be, and in the majority of cases probably is.
The whole case for the close relationship of physical and psychical characters may, therefore, be summed up in the words of Dr. F. A. E. Crew, as follows: "The different types of bodily conformation are related to differences in physiological functioning and in temperamental attributes. That this is so is not surprising, if it be granted that the endocrines are concerned in the regulation of the affective reactions which are associated with environmental stimuli and which tend towards action appropriate to a given situation. It is established that these endocrines are concerned in the regulation of the somatic growth. This being so, it follows that there must be a close association between bodily conformation and emotional attitude, since these are both strongly influenced by the physiological activities of the endocrine glands, the functioning of which in
1 O.S., p. 8. Also O.I.I.M., p. 3: "Nature withstands the impress of nurture to a remarkable degree. The same kind and decree of education, this word being used in its broadest sense, do not tend to produce equality among individuals exposed to them; on the contrary, they emphasize the initial dissimilarity."
I wish now to state precisely what I mean by "normal." It is a word so much abused in common parlance, and above all in journalistic English, that it is important to state exactly what is meant by it.
It is a mistake to suppose that the idea of the "normal" is necessarily reached by any statistical survey of a given group. The majority of creatures representing like features is not necessarily any more "normal" than the minority.
Taking the population of an urban area like London, for instance, full of office and sedentary workers, the majority exhibiting like difficulties of digestion would give no idea of the "normal" digestive function of man. Nor, probably, would a statistical survey of the same population reveal any majority having "normal" eyesight.
It is also a mistake to suppose that "normal" can mean "average" or "customary," in the statistical sense. No amount" of statistical work among modern people, to discover the average dentition, could ever yield an idea of what "normal" dentition is.
On the other hand, as Dr. K. Hildebrandt points out, 2 if I look into only one mouth and see thirty-two teeth, eight of which are decayed and ten irregular and crooked, I have no difficulty, if I am not a fool, in telling instantly that what is "normal" is not that eight should be decayed and ten irregular and crooked, but that the thirty-two should be as the sound ones are. And no amount of statistical work among modern human edentata could possibly help me to reach a more accurate conclusion.
In this sense, a good deal of modern statistical work is performed on the assumption that the investigator has not got the intelligence of a boy of ten. It is not surprising, therefore, that it often arrives at absolutely ludicrous conclusions.
1 M.L., p. 384. Also O.I.I.M., p. 149: "There must be a close association between bodily conformation on the one hand and temperament, or emotional attitude, on the other."
2 K.U.C. UEBER DIE ANGEBORENE MlNDERWERTIGKEIT DES CHARACTERS, p. 99.
"Normal" comes from "norm," meaning a standard or rule; though not rule in the sense of custom, but in the sense of norma, a carpenter's square for measuring right angles. Thus the idea of what is "normal," as Dr. K. Hildebrandt points out, should have nothing whatsoever to do with experience in the ordinary sense. 2 It is something by which we check what our everyday experience tells us is the average, and by which we correct what our judgment tells us is customary. In a sentence: Illness to-day is customary and average; but no sensible person would call it normal.
It is, therefore, ridiculous to speak of the modern European woman, who suffers the tortures of the damned in childbirth, and has to employ a fatigue party of expert obstetricians at each confinement, as "normal." She may be average or customary now; she may even be in the majority. But she is not normal, and nobody in his senses, layman or expert, who has seen an assisted birth of this kind, could possibly call it "normal."
"By the word 'norm'," says Dr. W. Stern, "we understand a required standard, which is given general validity with the purpose of realising objective values." 3 In other words, a norm is a pattern to be aspired to and equalled, and the word normal should be applied only to products which equal the pattern.
It was necessary to make this clear, and it is in this sense only that the word normal is used in these pages.
1 DIE DlFFERENTIELLE PSYCHOLOGIE (Leipzig, 1911, p. 157).
2 Op. cit., p. 100.
3 Op. cit., p. 157. See also D.S.W.K., pp. 145146, where a similar view is advanced.