Wednesday, January 19, 2011

There are fundamental, transcendent laws, and living in harmony with these is the key to mental and spiritual health.

Thomas Cogswell Upham (1799 –1872) was an American philosopher, psychologist, pacifist, poet, author, and educator. He was an important figure in the holiness movement. He served as the Bowdoin College professor of mental and moral philosophy from 1825-1868.

His most popular work, Mental Philosophy received 57 editions over a 73-year period. Additionally, he produced a volume of 16 other books and the first treatise on abnormal psychology, as well as several other works on religious themes and figures. Specific teachings included a conception of mental faculties - one of these restoring the will to psychology be developing a tripartite division of mental phenomena into intellectual, sentient, and voluntary. The intellect subsumed sensation and perception, attention, habit, association, and memory as well as reasoning. Sensibilities included natural emotions and desires, such as appetites, propensities, and affections, and also moral emotions, such as a feeling of obligation. Finally, the last division was the will, which allowed for volition as a basic component of human nature. This positing of a will free to choose between desires and obligations reflected the authors own spiritual journey from a Calvinistic background to the Wesleyan holiness perspective.

However, perhaps the most critical contribution to the field of psychology was Upham's concept of Positive psychology which asserts: There are fundamental, transcendent laws, and living in harmony with these is the key to mental and spiritual health. This concept laid the foundation for a healthy kind of religiosity.

From “Mental Philosophy [1869]
There are a few cases (the recent instance of Jane Rider in this country is one) where persons in the condition of somnambulism have not only possessed slight visual power, but perceptions of sight increased much above the common degree. In the extraordinary narrative of Jane Rider, the author informs us that he took two large wads of cotton and placed them directly on the closed eyelids, and then bound them on with a black silk handkerchief. The cotton filled the cavity under the eyebrows, and reached down to the middle of the cheek, and various experiments were tried to ascertain whether she could see. In one of them a watch enclosed in a case was handed to her, and she was requested to tell what o'clock it was by it; upon which, after examining both sides of the watch, she opened the case, and then answered the question. She also read, without hesitation, the name of a gentleman, written in characters so fine that no one else could distinguish it at the usual distance from the eye. In another paroxysm, the lights were removed from her room, and the windows so secured that no object was discernible, and two books were presented to her, when she immediately told the titles of both, though one of them was a book which she had never before seen. In other experiments, while the room was so darkened that it was impossible, with the ordinary powers of vision, to distinguish the colours of the carpet, and her eyes were also bandaged, she pointed out the different colours in the hearth rug, took up and read several cards lying on the table, threaded a needle, and performed several other things, which could not have been done without the aid of vision.

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