The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 108

escape our senses,
solely through want of belief--of faith;--whether it be faith in
Revelation, or faith in the Kabbala. The idea of it has never occurred
to us, simply because of its supererogation. We saw no need of the
impulse--for the propensity. We could not perceive its necessity. We
could not understand, that is to say, we could not have understood, had
the notion of this primum mobile ever obtruded itself;--we could not
have understood in what manner it might be made to further the objects
of humanity, either temporal or eternal. It cannot be denied that
phrenology and, in great measure, all metaphysicianism have been
concocted a priori. The intellectual or logical man, rather than the
understanding or observant man, set himself to imagine designs--to
dictate purposes to God. Having thus fathomed, to his satisfaction, the
intentions of Jehovah, out of these intentions he built his innumerable
systems of mind. In the matter of phrenology, for example, we first
determined, naturally enough, that it was the design of the Deity that
man should eat. We then assigned to man an organ of alimentiveness,
and this organ is the scourge with which the Deity compels man, will-I
nill-I, into eating. Secondly, having settled it to be God's will that
man should continue his species, we discovered an organ of amativeness,
forthwith. And so with combativeness, with ideality, with causality,
with constructiveness,--so, in short, with every organ, whether
representing a propensity, a moral sentiment, or a faculty of the pure
intellect. And in these arrangements of the Principia of human action,
the Spurzheimites, whether right or wrong, in part, or upon the whole,
have but followed, in principle, the footsteps of their predecessors:
deducing and establishing every thing from the preconceived destiny of
man, and upon the ground of the objects of his Creator.

It would have been wiser, it would have been safer, to classify (if
classify we must) upon the basis of what man usually or occasionally
did, and was always occasionally doing, rather than upon the basis of
what we took it for granted the Deity intended him to do. If we cannot
comprehend God in his visible works, how then in his inconceivable
thoughts, that call the works into being? If we cannot understand him in
his objective creatures, how then in his substantive moods and phases of

Induction, a posteriori, would have brought phrenology to admit, as an
innate and primitive principle of human action, a paradoxical something,
which we may call perverseness, for want of a more characteristic term.
In the sense I intend, it is, in fact, a mobile without motive, a

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