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Physiognomy History

Let's try to formulate the knowledge collected through centuries by the history of physiognomy.

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Physiognomy is of great antiquity, and in ancient and medieval times it had an extensive literature. There is evidence in the earliest classical literature, including Homer and Hippocrates, that physiognomy formed part of the most ancient practical philosophy.

The earliest-known systematic treatise on physiognomy is attributed to Aristotle. He examined the characters derived from the different features, and from color, hair, body, limbs, gait, and voice. Among the Latin classical authors Juvenal, Suetonius, and Pliny the Elder refer to the practice of physiognomy.

While the earlier classical physiognomy was chiefly descriptive, the later medieval studies particularly developed the predictive and astrological side, their treatises often digressing into prophetic folklore and magic. Arabian writers such as the alchemist ar-Razi and AverroŻs also contributed to the literature of physiognomy. Physiognomy also is extensively treated by such scholars as Avicenna.

Physiognomy has also been used as a kind of divination and is often associated with astrology. Lavater's studies in physiognomy drove him to search for demonstrable traces of the divine in human life. Physiognomy, which claims to find correspondences between bodily features and psychological characteristics, often makes use of supposed similarities, such as natural hair color, eye color, facial structure."

The same structure underlies the use of astrological tables in which animals, plants, and minerals, as well as human personality traits, are associated with the birth signs of the zodiac or planets. Predictive methods of fortune-telling include astrology and numerology. Fortune-telling as a process of character analysis can take such forms as physiognomy (study of facial characteristics), graphology (study of handwriting), phrenology (study of contours on the skull), and palmistry (study of lines on the palm of the hand).

In the 18th and 19th centuries, physiognomy was used by some of its proponents as a method of detecting criminal tendencies. Many bigots and racists still use physiognomy to judge character and personality. Phrenology, the study of the conformation of the skull as indicative of mental faculties and traits of character, enjoyed great popular appeal well into the 20th century. The system of Franz-Joseph Gall was constructed by a method of pure empiricism. Some of the traits that he presumed to detect were "criminal."

Lombroso tried to discern a possible relationship between criminal psychopathology and physical or constitutional defects. Among these anomalies, which he termed stigmata, were various unusual skull sizes and asymmetries of the facial bones.
See physiognomy as a branch of physiology.

In the 1920s, Dr Edward Vincent Jones, a US Superior Court Judge, fascinated by the similarity between people he met in thousands of courtroom encounters, began a study of physiognomy traits. Reviewing earlier literature on the subject, Jones determined to resolve the conflicting ideas he found there. Through repeated observations, he arrived at sixty-four physical traits that he deemed accurate indicators of character. It is on Jones's work, which he called "personology." Classification into physiognomy types is outside the realm of personology but can be found in other systems. Joel Friedlander described seven body types that have their origins in endocrinology: solar, lunar, venusial, mercurial, jovial, martial and saturnine.

Also during the 1930s, personality studies began to consider the broader social context in which a person lived and cultural pressures in personality characteristics. For example, the American anthropologist Margaret Mead in her book "Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies" showed that masculinity is not necessarily expressed through aggressiveness and that femininity is not necessarily expressed through passivity and acquiescence. Physiognomy is now regarded as overly simplistic because most personality characteristics are manifested at different times in response to different situations.

In the 1960s, the American psychologist named Paul Ekman got his start in the face-reading business and he discovered that the face is such an extraordinarily efficient instrument of communication that there must be rules that govern the way we interpret facial expressions. Ekman had established that expressions were the universal products of evolution. There were fundamental lessons to be learned from the face, if you knew where to look.

In order to become a good "face reader" you had to know a lot. Not only the knowledge accumulated for centuries, but also the psychology and diversity of facial traits determined by nationality and character. Today, physiognomy is whidely used and it is being studied in the best known colleges and universities. Participants will learn to identify and analyze the features of the face and gestures that characterize personality traits. There is a wide selection of literature describing physiognomy.

LoveToKnow 1911.
Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The Sceptic's Dictionary by Robert Todd Carroll.
Visage Project for Physiognomy Data
Phrenology & lavater, physiognomy, art and racial science by Ross Woodrow.
Reading Bumps and Faces; Phrenology and Physiognomy by Jerry Bergman.
Physiognomy Of Women Aryabhatt Astrology Services.
How To: Read Faces by Steve Richer.
Foresee Future Foresee your future through palm reading & face reading.
Astrological Physiognomy Research papers in Medieval Predictive Astrology by Dr. H.
Physiognomy, The Beautiful Pseudoscience How different traits, features, and expressions affect us.
Male sex appeal lies in face shape by Laura Clout (www.telegraph.co.uk).

The main conclusion that we can make from the history of physiognomy is that there is a great amount of empirical evidence that correlates facial features and character traits.

Let's try to use this methods in practice, overlooking the debates whether physiognomy really is a true science or charlatanry.

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