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Unformatted text preview: nformation prepared by the Project Gutenberg legal advisor 7 INTRODUCTION
Man's interest in character is founded on an intensely practical need. In whatsoever relationship we deal with
our fellows, we base our intercourse largely on our understanding of their characters. The trader asks
concerning his customer, "Is he honest?" and the teacher asks about the pupil, "Is he earnest?" The friend
bases his friendship on his good opinion of his friend; the foe seeks to know the weak points in the hated one's
make-up; and the maiden yearning for her lover whispers to, herself, "Is he true?" Upon our success in reading
the character of others, upon our understanding of ourselves hangs a good deal of our life's success or failure.
Because the feelings are in part mirrored on the face and body, the experience of mankind has become
crystallized in beliefs, opinions and systems of character reading which are based on physiognomy, shape of
head, lines of hand, gait and even the method of dress and the handwriting. Some of these all men believe in,
at least in part. For example, every one judges character to a certain extent by facial expression, manner,
carriage and dress. A few of the methods used have become organized into specialties, such as the study of the
head or phrenology, and the study of the hand or palmistry. All of these systems are really "materialistic" in
that they postulate so close a union of mind and body as to make them inseparable.
But there are grave difficulties in the way of character-judging by these methods. Take, for example, the study
of the physiognomy as a means to character understanding. All the physiognomists, as well as the average
man, look upon the high, wide brow as related to great intelligence. And so it is--sometimes. But it is also
found in connection with disease of the brain, as in hydrocephalus, and in old cases of rickets. You may step
into hospitals for the feeble-minded or for the insane and find here and there a high, noble brow. Conversely
you may attend a scientific convention and f...
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- Spring '11