Talk:Paul Broca

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I have two questions

First, what methods did Broca use to determine the areas of brain damage? Was visual inspection of the affected patient's skull sufficient, or did it involve autopsy? If the latter, what does one look for in an autopsy to indicate brain damage?

Second, the article defines "aphasic patients" as "persons unable to talk". Modern definitions of aphasia seem to be broader, including almost everyone with a language impairment due to brain damage? Is this definition a mistake, or does it reflect Broca's own usage?

--Ryguasu 01:04 Jan 27, 2003 (UTC)

Nowadays the specific type of aphasia he studied is known as, not surprisingly, Broca's aphasia. 06:22, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Cause of death[edit]

I have removed the cause of Broca's death "probably of a brain aneurism" because my source (which has been reliable for most other entries) says he died "possibly from a coronary occlusion". (B.G. Firkin & J.A.Whitworth (1987). Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. Parthenon Publishing. ISBN 1-85070-333-7) Dave 23:06, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)


What's his exact full name? Paul Pierre Broca or Pierre Paul Broca? --KJ 04:43, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

Paul Broca. The second name is never quoted or evoked in France. I suppressed the mention on its prodigious childhood. The bacchalaureat is the result of a cumulated success to a sum of tests (litterature, history, mathematics, physics, etc) made in only 2 or 3 days. The year later is either maths and philo or the reverse.User: Gerard Percheron

I moved the page accordingly. -- User:Docu

Francisco Goya[edit]

“Francisco Goya had his skull hidden and not buried with the rest of his body as a direct response to Broca's work in this area.”

I take serious issue with this statement considering Goya died when Broca was approx. 4 years of age. This statement needs to be removed or edited. If anyone has more information regarding a possible Goya/Broca connection I would be most interested.

NOT a word on phrenology!![edit]

Why is there not a word on Broca's understanding and dissemination of phrenology? What about early eugenics? These are valid topics that Broca was a pioneer in.

--Gautam3 01:13, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Broca and racism[edit]

The fact that Broca was trying to prove that skull/brain size related to intelligence suggests that he was as racist as any other scientist at the time, as Caucasian males generally have larger brains. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 16:45, 7 December 2006 (UTC).

Broca and Darwinism!?[edit]

How the hell can Broca form a freethinker's group devoted to Darwin's ideas in 1848 when Darwin didn't publish TOoS until 1859? This part makes no sense, has no citation, and I'm going to remove it unless someone has a citation.

As I understand it, Broca was at first a polygenist--French polygenists were generally anti-evolution and believed in complete permanence of human racial types. (Broca's hero was Samuel George Morton.) Then later Broca believed races could come into existence by crossing. Then later he thought some kind of "transformism" was correct. See: "Foreign Bodies: Oceania and the Science of Race" which is readable online. (talk) 23:36, 24 July 2011 (UTC)

Copyright Violation Removed[edit]

Source text: Classic Experiments in Psychology by Douglas Mook. Offending material copied verbatim from Chapter 4: Paul Broca and the Speech Center in the 5th paragraph. SabarCont 20:53, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

WikiProject Psychology[edit]

I am a member of the APS-Wikipedia Initiative, which is a task force of WikiProject Psychology. I editing this page extensively by adding content, references, inline citations, and links to other pages. Keep up the Initiative!!! Maddiebaltz (talk) 08:47, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

And I am afraid that I have removed a lot of what you have added. New World Encyclopedia is not a reliable source. I am actually tempted to revert this article to just prior to your contributions, as some spot checks suggest to me that there may also be other issues. I'll do a little more digging first, however. - Sitush (talk) 23:23, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

More material[edit]

I got some material I worked up for the Anthropology article, as the French are claiming Broca as the founder of anthropology. As this article is still in an intermediate phase I am putting this material here, to be worked into the article later. I'd do it now, but the History of anthropology takes precedence as well as a check and clean-up of Anthropology. I agreed by discussion that all this material on Broca was first of all to give the French a certain credit for an origin of not quite so certain roots, and secondly and mainly to overemphasize individuals in the anthropology article, which is about modern types of anthropological lines of development. This material can't be just thrown in, it has to be worked into the texture of the article. But, I see a lot of citation requests on the article as it is, so it has to be carefully checked if Wikepedia articles are actually to br relied upon as meaning anything. So, let's just leave it here until the moment is right for me to finish it, unless someone else takes up the task. As for the French claim, well, it depends on what one is to mean by anthropology and how Broca fits into the development of it. The main objection in the other article was that physical anthropology is not really anthropology. Well, that is certainly off the wall and its proponent feels that there is no cultural anthropolgy either. That doubtless is is probably part of a "x really is y" approach, so it needs to be looked at carefully..Botteville (talk) 20:56, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

"When Darwin’s work burst upon the academic world, Paul Broca, credited by some as being the founder of general Anthropology (there are different views) was what today would be called a neurosurgeon. As a physician, he had taken an interest in the pathology of speech. His researches in this area led to comparative studies of brains. He wanted to localize the difference between man and the other animals, which appeared to reside in speech. He discovered the speech center of the human brain, today called Broca's area after him.

In October of 1857 Broca visited a friend in the country, Léonce Berges, an agronomist. He had just cross-bred Lepus cuniculus with Lepus timidus to produce three hardy and self-reproductive hybrid individuals, which should not have been possible if species were created fixed and immutable. Broca followed the case for months. The hybrid was very successful, bringing his friend considerable income in the marketplace.[1] Broca began profess that “the classical doctrine of the permanence of species is entirely mistaken.”[2] Broca belonged to the Société de biologie in Paris.

As his work was questioning the account of creation given in the Book of Genesis, the Société, afraid of being discredited, attempted to gag and deter him. Pierre François Olive Rayer, president and co-founder, asked him personally to stop theorizing along that line. Broca’s response was to form a break-away group, the Société d’Anthropologie de Paris. With him were Eugène Follin, Aristide Auguste Stanislas Verneuil, Charles-Philippe Robin, Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard, and some other physicians, mainly his close friends. The first meeting was not until May 19,1859, due to the tighter control over public assemblies after the Revolution of 1848. Eventually Broca received permission and was able to hold a meeting without the police present.

They chose a name that would distinguish them from any of the disciplines then extant. By selecting this word, Broca and his friends meant to stress that man is “subject to the same laws as the animal world.” He meant that no special spirituality or special creation above and beyond the same laws of nature that governed the other animals were to apply. If other species were not fixed and immutable by special creation, neither was man. This is the element in which his anthropology, and modern anthropology, differed from the previous. It was revolutionary. His definition now became “the study of the human group, considered as a whole, in its details, and in relation to the rest of nature.” [3]

There were political implications of the conclusion as well. Scientific explanations of society were not to rely for answers in such doctrines as the Divine right of kings, but were to rely on natural science as it was then being unveiled by comparative studies. Besides being against the prevalent view of racial purity and the God-given superiority of the Aryan race, and against a slavery justified by the created inferiority of the other races, his and his friends’ views brought him into conflict with some dogmas claiming a base in the Bible. The Bible, if taken literally, portrays man as monogenic, “of single birth,” descending from Adam and Eve. He advocated polygenism, the descent of man from many individuals. When Darwin’s work was published in 1858 he became an immediate convert and enthusiastic partisan of Transformisme, as the French called evolution. He said that he did not feel humiliated by having a trilobite for an ancestor, asking only how one knew that fact.[4]"


  1. ^ Schiller 1979, p. 129
  2. ^ Schiller 1979, pp. 130-132
  3. ^ Schiller 1979, p. 136
  4. ^ Schiller 1979, p. 143

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