CG Jung and the Hand

An Extract from 'The Hands of Children' by Julius Spier (1944)

Introduction by CG Jung

Chirology is an art which dates back to very ancient times. The ancient physician never hesitated to make use of such auxiliary systems as chiromancy and astrology for diagnostic and prognostic purposes as is shown, for instance, by the book of Dr Goclenius who lived at the end of the sixteenth century in Wurzburg. The rise of the natural sciences and with it of rationalism in the eighteenth century were responsible for the contemptible treatment and defamation of these ancient arts which could pride themselves on a thousand years of history and this led to the rejection of everything which on the one hand defied a reasonable explanation and verification by experiment or, on the other, made too exclusive a claim on intuition. On account of the uncertainty and paucity of scientific knowledge in the Middle Ages, even conscientious thinkers were exposed to the danger of applying their intuition rather to the promotion of superstition than science. Thus all early, and particularly mediaeval, treatises about this subject are an inextricable tangle of empiric and phantastic facts. To establish a scientific method and to obtain reliable results it was necessary, first of all, to make a clean sweep of all these irrational methods. In the twentieth century, however, after two hundred years of intensive scientific progress, we can risk resurrecting these almost forgotten arts which have dragged on a despised existence in semi-obscurity; and we can risk testing them in the light of modern knowledge for possible truths.

The totality-conception of modern biology, which is based on the evidence of a host of observations and research, does not exclude the possibility that hands, whose shaoe and functioning are so intimately connected with the psyche, might provide revealing and, therefore, interpretable expressions of psychical peculiarity, that is, of the human character. Modern science increasingly relinquishes the mediaeval conception of the separateness of body and mind, and just as the body in the view of science is neither something mechanical nor chemical, so the mind seems to be but another aspect of the living body. Conclusions relating to one or the other would therefore seem to be within the range of scientific operation.

I have had several opportunities of observing Mr Spier at work and must admit that the results he has achieved have made a lasting impression upon me. His method, though predominantly intuitive, is based upon a vast practical experience. Experiences of this kind can be rationalised to a great extent, that is to say, they admit of reasonable explanation once they are available. The manner, however, in which they are obtained depends, apart from routine, in its most decisive points, upon a subtly differentiated intuition which in itself implies individual specific talent. We therefore can hardly expect persons with nothing but average intelligence to be able to master this method. There is, however, a definite possibility that people who are intuitively gifted should be able to achieve similar results provided they are properly taught and trained. Intuition is not an isolated talent but a regularly occurring function which is capable of development. Like the function of seeing and hearing, it has its specific field of experience and a specific range of cognition.

The findings and knowledge expounded in this book are of essential importance for psychologists, doctors and educationalists. Spier's chirology is a valuable contribution to character research in its widest application.

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