Neurophilosophy

BibliOdyssey: Must-have blog book

Sivartha3.jpg

This brain map comes from The Book of Life: The Spiritual and Physical Constitution of Man (1912), by the obscure mystical philosopher Alesha Sivartha, who is sometimes referred to as a “grandfather of the new-age movement”.

The map is of particular interest, as it approaches modern neurology but still retains a few elements of phrenology, and is therefore a transition between the two. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

It is based on the experiments of the pioneering Scottish neurologist David Ferrier, who functionally mapped the sensory and motor cortices by lesion studies and direct electrical stimulation of the brains of monkeys and dogs.

Anatomically, the map is therefore more realistic than the phrenological maps being produced just a few decades earlier: the gyri and sulci (the brain’s bumps and fissures) are depicted; the pons has been labelled correctly; the cerebellum is easily distinguished; and “reason”, a higher cognitive function, has been associated with the frontal regions, as it is today.

This is just one of many thousands of wonderful illustrations that can be found at the superb BibliOdyssey. This blog has been one of my favourites ever since I first found it over a year ago. It is via BibliOdyssey that I found all of the beautiful rare book illustrations for my header images.

So, I’m very pleased that a collection of posts from it is now available as a book, called BibliOdyssey: Amazing Archival Images from the Internet. Actually, a significant proportion of the material in the book – about a third – has not appeared on the blog, and all the descriptions have been written specifically for the book.

European readers can buy the book directly from the London-based publisher Fuel Design; here’s an interview with BibliOdyssey blogger/author Paul K.