Luigi Ferrarese

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An 1883 phrenology chart

Luigi Ferrarese (December 12, 1795August 8, 1855) was an Italian physician and the leading proponent of phrenology in Italy in the Nineteenth Century, who advocated for a government embrace of phrenology as a scientific means of conquering many social ills in his Memorie Risguardanti La Dottrina Frenologica (1838).


  • Dottrina, che pel suo idealismo poco circospetto , non solo la fede, ma la stessa ragione offende (il sistema di KANT) : farebbe mestieri far aperto gli errori pericolosi, cosi alla Religione, come alla Morale, di quel psicologo franzese , il quale ha sedotte le menti (COUSIN), con far osservare come la di lui filosofia intraprendente ed audace sforza le barriere della sacra Teologia, ponendo innanzi ad ogn' altra autorità la propria : profana i misteri , dichiarandoli in parte vacui di senso, ed in parte riducendoli a volgari allusioni, ed a prette metafore ; costringe , come faceva osservare un dotto Critico, la rivelazione a cambiare il suo posto con quello del pensiero istintivo e dell' affermazione senza riflessione e colloca la ragione fuori della persona dell'uomo dichiarandolo un frammento di Dio, una spezie di pandeismo spirituale introducendo, assurdo per noi, ed al Supremo Ente ingiurioso, il quale reca onda grave alla libertà del medesimo, ec, ec.
    • "A doctrine which, because of its little-circumspect idealism, offends not just faith, but reason itself (KANT): it would be useful to show the dangerous errors, to Religion as much as to Moral, of that French psychologist, who seduced minds (COUSIN), by showing how his bold and audacious philosophy breaks the barrier of the holy Theology, placing his own authority before any other: he profanes the mysteries, declaring them partly devoid of meaning, and partly reducing them to vulgar allusions and pure metaphors; forces, as a learned Critic noted, the revelation to swap places with instinctive thought and assertion without reflection without and places reason outside man, declaring man a fragment of God, introducing a sort of spiritual pandeism, which is absurd to us and insulting to the Supreme Being, which gravely offends freedom itself, etc, etc.
    • Ferrarese describing pandeism in Memorie Risguardanti la Dottrina Frenologica ("Thoughts Regarding the Doctrine of Phrenology", 1838), p. 16.

Quotes about Luigi Ferrarese[edit]

  • [Luigi Ferrarese] is an enlightened and philanthropic physician of Naples, who has for several years been zealously pursuing the study of Phrenology, and endeavouring to promote its application to those branches of science, morals and legislation, which he perceives it so well calculated to benefit. He has met with much persecution, but he has persevered, and it is with pleasure we perceive that there is one mind at least, in Naples, imbued with the importance of his views

A Visit to Dr Ferrarese of Naples, 1845[edit]

George Combe (1845) "A Visit to Dr Ferrarese of Naples", The Phrenological Journal, and Magazine of Moral Science, , p. 139.
  • Even Italy sends forth her testimony that phrenology has reached her shores. On my return from America in June last, I found awaiting me a little work entitled' Memoirs regarding the Doctrine of Phrenology and other Sciences connected with it,' by Dr Luigi Ferrarese, Professor of Medicine in Naples, read before the Royal Academy of Sciences in that city. It was published with full permission from the royal censor of the press. The censor in his report on the work certifies that it ' is very instructive and useful, and contains nothing offensive to religion or to the rights of kings.
  • I found him in circumstances which indicated much depression, both physical and mental. He spoke with interest of Phrenology, and said that he had projected a Phrenological Journal, but knew that he would be stopped by the Government. He wished to shew the importance of the science in insanity, criminal legislation, education, and social arrangements; but in Naples there was no outlet for knowledge. Altogether, I have never had an interview with any phrenologist, foreign or British, who excited so strong a feeling of sympathy and regret, mingled with respect for his intellectual acquirements, as did Dr Ferrarese.
  • On 10th February 1839, he commenced a periodical, named "Il Gatto Letterato, Foglio periodico," dated in Capolago (a town in Italian Switzerland), but printed at Naples (without licence); and for a "Lettera di un Frenologo ad un Dottore degli Stati Pontifici" (" Letter from a Phrenologist to a Doctor in the Papal States"), he was called before the Santa Sede (Holy Tribunal); and afterwards, in 1840, for several other articles, he was seized and imprisoned for 28 days. He was suspended from his office of physician in ordinary to the Royal Lunatic Asylum at Aversa, and crushed to the earth by every engine of persecution which bigotry and tyranny, combined, could employ against Him.

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