Human Physiology the Basis of Sanitary and Social Science

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THE title “Human Physiology,” which alone appears on the back of this book, is misleading, and even the title as given above would scarcely prepare a reader for what he will find. The preface, however, gives fair warning. “Physiology,” writes Dr. Nichols, “the science of life, has been handed over to the medical profession, which has an unfortunate interest in the popular ignorance of sanitary laws; while metaphysicians, moralists, and theologians have confused rather than enlightened our ideas “as to the moral nature of man and his consequent social requirements.” This seems rather hard on the doctors, who have certainly done all that has yet been done in preaching the laws of health and in getting them carried out, both by public supervision or compulsion and by private influence; but the whole volume is an exemplification of the latter part of the melancholy result, whether due to those designing persons who study metaphysics, morals, and theology or to some other cause. Dr. Nichols is an ardent advocate of the numerous theories which blind and bigoted Science has consistently and universally refused to accept, to the great disgust of circle-squarers, anti-Newtonians, popular “scientists,” and Social-Science-mongers. The first section of the book treats of preventible mortality, poverty, ignorance, drunkenness, and prostitution; the second of matter, force, and life, including adverse criticism, on the feeblest grounds, of the doctrines of evolutionand of materialism, with some remarkable “proofs of immortality.” The third part gives a popular account of the human body, with some of the oddest illustrations ever printed. The fourth treats of the laws of generation, including chapters on love and marriage, hereditary transmission, and problems of the sexual relation. This section is, perhaps, the best in the book, and its subjects are handled with freedom and modesty, while the conclusions are sensible enough. The fifth, part on health, disease, and cure, contains a good many useful and obvious remarks on the value of cleanliness, exercise, and temperance, together with a number of utterly unsupported or demonstrably false propositions. The last part, is devoted to the discussion of morals and society, in which important questions in political economy, ethics, agriculture, are stated, benevolent wishes for all classes of mankind are expressed, and the questions left much as they were found.

Human Physiology the Basis of Sanitary and Social Science.

By T. L. Nichols Pp. 479; woodcuts. (Trübner, 1872.)

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S., P. Human Physiology the Basis of Sanitary and Social Science . Nature 7, 261 (1873) doi:10.1038/007261a0

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