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George Combe

(1788—1858) phrenologist


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George Combe was born in Edinburgh on 21 October 1788 and died in Moor Park on 14 August 1858. The son of a brewer, Combe was apprenticed to a law firm and became a successful Writer to the Signet (barrister). In 1817 he encountered the nascent science of craniology or phrenology, and was instrumental in shaping it to become the prolific social and scientistic movement it was during the mid 1820s to 1840s. Combe became the foremost advocate of phrenology through his lectures and countless publications. He travelled extensively in Germany and the United States. In 1828 his first and most influential philosophical work was published, The Constitution of Man Considered in Relation to External Objects. It is the work for which Combe was primarily known during his lifetime and widely remembered until the end of the nineteenth century. Indeed the Constitution of Man was so successful, selling about 300,000 copies during Combe's lifetime, that Combe was one of the most widely-known philosophers of the second half of the nineteenth century, not amongst academic philosophers, but amongst the general reading public.

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From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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