Essay on Superstition

Essay on Superstition : Being an Inquiry into the Effects of Physical Influence on the Mind in the Production of Dreams, Visions, Ghosts, and Other Supernatural Appearances

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William Newnham (1790-1865) was a general medical practitioner, also qualified as an apothecary, who played a prominent role in his profession and was widely recognised for his skill. His particular medical interest lay within the fields of gynaecology and obstetrics, although he also published several papers on topics including phrenology and human magnetism. This 1830 publication contains a series of essays he had recently written for The Christian Observer. In them, Newnham argues that dreams, visions, apparitions and other apparently spiritual manifestations, whether good or bad, arise from physiological rather than supernatural causes. He provides evidence that the effects on the brain from disease, medications (including nitrous oxide and opium) and trauma, causing 'disturbance of brainular function', can produce such experiences. Anticipating criticism, he insists that the light of science benefits true religion rather than undermining it, contrasting 'real Christianity' with 'superstitious' creeds including Catholicism, Islam and Hinduism.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1139176390
  • 9781139176392

Table of contents

Preface; 1. Introductory remarks; 2. Division of the subject; 3. Materiality of the brain, and its subjection to the agency of physical causes; 4. Particular sympathies of the brain; 5. Phenomena of disordered brainular function, and its influence on the manifestations of mind; 6. The same subject continued; 7. Phenomena of sleep, and its morbid states; 8. The same subjects continued; 9. The same subject continued; 10. The same subject continued; 11. On presentiments; 12. Agency of evil spirits; 13. Critical inquiry into the views of a recent writer in The Record, on the subject of apparitions; 14. Influence of nitrous-oxyde gas on the brain; 15. Influence of brainular disease on the function of volition; 16. The same subject continued; 17. Summary review of the preceding argument; 18. The same subject continued; 19. The same subject continued; 20. Conclusions arising from a review of the whole subject.
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