Almost 200 years ago, interest in phrenology launched a self-help movement that came to dominate early and mid Victorian times. Does today's fascination with neurophysiology signal the imminent launch of a similar movement based on manipulation of the brain centers responsible for various mental faculties?
I've just posted a review of the bible of the phrenology self-help movement, George Combe's 1829 Constitution of Man Considered in Relation to External Objects. Combe created for phrenology an entirely new natural philosophy, with its own god, science and human nature. What natural philosophy would best exploit the self help potential of neurophysiology? I suggest, a world consisting of random events for which we developed the appropriate human mental faculties through two hundred thousand years of evolution. The new self help will consist of technological gadgets able to light up the parts of our brains activating on demand the faculties identified by evolutionary psychology--ruthlessness, sexual passion, and pleasure.
By comparison, phrenology looks pretty good.