Joseph Rodes Buchanan was a Kentucky-born
Professor and Dean at Cincinnati's Eclectic Medical Institute. Views published
in such periodicals as the Journal of Man reflectd his sympathy
for the concerns of Robert Owen and
Charles Fourier, as well as the National
Buchanan was at the center of nineteenth
century American science. In the heart of Ohio mound country, he arranged
to save skulls removed from those mounds for study by Samuel G. Morton.
An avid social reformer, he was also an active spiritualist friendly with
Andrew Jackson Davis, Dr. J.
M. Peebles, and other prominent leaders of the movement.
He used the term "anthropology"
to describe his goal, a unified study of humany. He also coined the
term "psychometry" in 1842, as meaning the "measuring of the soul"
in its nonvisual sensitivity
to atmospheric, electric, and other physical features of material
objects. On the possibilities of the latter, he wrote:
"The past is entombed in
the present, the world is its own enduring monument; and that which is
true of its physical is likewise true of its mental career. The discoveries
of Psychometry will enable us to explore the history of man, as those of
geology enable us to explore the history of the earth. There are mental
fossils for psychologists as well as mineral fossils for the geologists;
and I believe that hereafter the psychologist and the geologist will go
hand in hand, the one portraying the earth, its animals and its vegetation,
while the other portrays the human beings who have roamed over its surface
in the shadows, and the darkness of primeval barbarism. Aye, the mental
telescope is now discovered which may pierce the depths of the past and
bring us in full view of the grand and tragic passages of ancient history."
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