Historical Perspective

The modular and unitary models presented above are no more than restatements of the positions taken by Gall and Flourens in the nineteenth century (see Young 1970; Clarke and Jacyna 1987). Gall's position was modular. His organology (the term "phrenology" was never used by Gall) took as its starting point the view that "the brain is composed of as many particular organs as there are propensities, sentiments and faculties which differ essentially from each other.'' Gall's project was to identify dissociable mental faculties on the basis of observation and to correlate them with specific cortical organs: "the important search always is for these independent powers, for, it is only for them that organs exist in the brain'' (Gall 1835, p. 105). Gall's imaging tool was the shape and thickness of the skull, and thus organology was destined to fail. However, several of his twenty-seven "sentiments and propensities'' hit the mark. The faculties of attending to words (faculty 14), spoken language (faculty 15 ), relations of tones (faculty 17), distinguishing colors (faculty 16), and relations of space (faculty 12) form the bedrock of current imaging research.

Flourens's position was one of unitary consciousness. He followed Descartes's thesis of the unity of the moi, arguing that understanding/ intellect was a unitary faculty; hence its seat, the cerebrum, must itself be a unitary organ. He was dismissive of Gall's theory of multiple dissociable faculties: "Now here is the sum of and the substance of Gall's psychology. For the understanding, essentially a unitary faculty, he substitutes a multitude of little understandings or faculties distinct and isolate" and "the consciousness tells me I am one, and Gall insists I am multiple" (see Robinson 1998, p. 167; 347).

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