Brain, Mind and the External Signs of Intelligence. By Bernard Hollander, M.D. London: George Allen and Unwin, Ltd. Profusely illustrated 12s. 6d. net.
Dr. Bernard Hollander, who is very well known from his writings on the anatomy and functions of the brain of man and animals, has in the volume before us crowned the edifice of his work. He has put together in a most interesting way all that is known of brain structure and brain action from the point of view of the anatomist, physiologist and physician. Also Dr. Hollander surpasses his contemporaries in his knowledge of the functions of the different parts of the brain from a phrenological standpoint.
He has outstripped his contemporaries in the matter of vision, and this gives his work a quite peculiar interest and value. Moreover it is illustrated in a lavish fashion with drawings, photographs and diaphragms which really do illustrate the propositions brought forward. All who wish to learn the very latest that science and observation have produced from the anatomical, physiological and clinical-pathological standpoint cannot do better than possess themselves of Dr. Hollanders book.
Dr. Hollanders main thesis is as follows: “The brain is primarily an organ of the instincts and emotions, only that part which is essentially characteristic of humanity being connected with the intellectual abilities which exclusively pertain to man”; our knowledge of the mental functions of the brain is still obscure; we have got as far as the statement that “the brain is the organ of the mind” without any clear conception of what “the mind” is. The search for the seat of “the soul” in the brain has been given up only the last sixty years. All that experimental physiology has succeeded in doing is to “localise centres” in the brain, but has done nothing to discover the “mind” which operates the centres.
Dissection and the microscope were expected to tell us much, but “neither thought nor feeling can be lifted with the scalpel; nor will a brain section held under the magnifying lens reveal its living function. Genius cannot be measured or explained. Disease and accident have done much to reveal brain localities. A frontal brain is the chief seat of genius.” “An elementary knowledge of the brain and its functions, i.e. of the organic basis of the instincts, emotions and higher mental attributes” should be known in order that we may distinguish” what is innate in man and what is acquired.” One reason why brain knowledge has been so defective in the past is that it has been hampered by “psychological dogmas almost as effectively as it was by theological dogmas in earlier times.”.
Such is the aim of Dr. Hollander and very thoroughly has he carried out his purpose, as far as the lines he has adopted allow. Those who wish to know the very latest that has been said on the subject of brain function and brain localisation from the academic point of view can be confidently referred to this luminous work.
But there is another point of view from which the subject of brain-form and brain functions may be approached. Dr. Hollander and the scientific world approach it from the circumference, but it may be approached from the centre.
We say, for instance, “the eye sees.” But the eye sees nothing, it is the living being that sees with and through the eye. We say “the hand writes,” but the dead hand does not write, it is the spirit of the individual that uses his hand to write what he dictates. The shell of the snail does not create the snail, but the snail grows its own shell and uses it. Neither does the skull of a man secrete the brains which carry it. But the living spirit of the man creates his own brains according to the capacity of the spirit-soul which is the individual.
The academic method of seeking the soul by the dissection and putting together again of the parts which analysis has divided, ends by banishing the soul-spirit of the entity out of the picture. “The soul is form and doth the Bodie make” says the poet. The “scientific” method is not merely putting the cart before the horse it is banishing the horse from the picture altogether. Now any true philosophy of mind and brain must begin with the individual and proceed from within outwards. We must start with the horse and not with the cart, which he has to draw.
The very word, “INDIVIDUAL,” -indivisible-states the case quite clearly. However much the body may be divided and “anatomised” – which means “cut up into bits” – the spirit of man cannot be divided. a man does not love with his eye and hate with his fist; he loves or hates with his undivided and invisible innermost self. His outer self is a derived, divided, temporary affair which serves his purposes like his garments and his organic machinery. Th eye does not see, but the individual sees through it and with it.
The brain does not think, but the individual thinks with his brain, which he has built up for the purpose as the snail builds the house which she carries. All the senses of man are summed up in one sense-SENSATION. So then the Spirit-soul of the indivisible, individual Man – his positive and negative-masculine and feminine, aspects-are seen everywhere in their operations, but are themselves as invisible and intangible as a thought.
Dr. Hollander has done all that may be done working from without inward. He has found no place for a “soul” in any recess of the brain constitution, or in the body. Let him now start from the individual, indivisible Spirit-soul, the fundamental Ego of his own personal Universe and see what he may then have to present us with.