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MÜLLER, Johannes Peter (1801-1858)

Ueber die phantastischen Gesichtserscheinungen. Eine physiologische Untersuchung mit einer physiologischen Urkunde des Aristoteles über den Traum, den Philosophen und Aerzten gewidmet.
Coblenz, bei Jacob Hölscher, 1826.

First edition of Müller’s chief contribution to neurophysiology. Müller was responsbile for a remarkable advance in neurophysiology. Goethe’s blend of feeling and science exerted an irresistible influence as can best be seen in the present treatise “On the Phantastic Visual Appearances”, a small volume treating such pathological topics as hallucinations, illusions, and visions. – “In it he showed that the sensory system of the eye not only reacts to external optical stimuli arising from organic malfunction, lingering mental images, or the play of the imagination. He himself found it easy to make luminous images of people and things appear suddenly, move about, and disappear whenever he closed his eyes and concentrated on his darkened field of vision. With such self-observation and self-experimentation, supplemented with reports of earlier and contemporary authors – including Goethe, who in his scientific research likewise commenced from subjective experience – Müller demonstrated that optical perceptions can arise without an adequate external stimulus. When the stimulus is mistakenly assumed to have originated outside the body, the result – depending on the situation – is the reporting of religious or magical visions, or the seeing of ghosts” (Johannes Steudel in DSB). “ ... Müller’s work on sensory phenomena led to the insight that 'in intercourse with the external world we continually sense ourselves’ – a realization with important implications for epistemology and psychology” (Norman). “Exposition of the doctrine of specific nerve energies, stating that the kind of sensation depends upon the nature of the sense organ, not upon the mode of stimulation” (Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science).

Collation: Pp. x, 117, (1).

Binding: Nineteenth century black half cloth, marbled boards. Gilt lettering on spine. Yellow endpapers.

Provenance: Stamp on front endpaper: Georg Brandenburg Dr. med.

References: Garrison-Morton 1456; Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science, 76; DSB, IX, p 570; Norman Library 1568; Haymaker/Schiller, Founders of Neurology, pp 243 ff. Waller 6763.

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