Carl Jung: Foreword to Spier: “The Hands of Children”

Chirology is an art which dates back to very ancient times.

The ancient physicians never hesitated to make use of such auxiliary techniques as chiromancy and astrology for diagnostic purposes, as is shown, for instance, by the little book written by Dr. Goclenius, who lived at the end of the sixteenth century in Wiirzburg.

The rise of the natural sciences and hence of rationalism in the eighteenth century brought these ancient arts, which could look back on a thousand or more years of history, into disrepute, and led to the rejection of everything that, on the one hand, defied rational 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 the most conscientious thinkers were in danger of applying their intuition more to the promotion of superstition than of science.

Thus all early, and particularly medieval, treatises on palmistry are an inextricable tangle of empiricism and fantasy.

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 procedures.

In the twentieth century, after two hundred years of intensive scientific progress, we can risk resurrecting these almost forgotten arts which have lingered on in semi-obscurity and can test them in the light of modern knowledge for possible truths.

The view of modern biology that man is a totality, supported by a host of observations and researches, does not exclude the possibility that hands, those organs so intimately connected with the psyche, might reveal by their shape and functioning the psychic peculiarities of the individual and thus furnish eloquent and intelligible clues to his character.

Modern science is steadily abandoning the medieval conception of the dichotomy of body and mind, and just as the body is now seen to be something neither purely mechanical nor chemical, so the mind seems to be but another aspect of the living body.

Conclusions drawn from one as to the nature of the other seem therefore to be within the realm of scientific possibility.

I have had several opportunities of observing Mr. Spier at work, and must admit that the results he has obtained have made a lasting impression on me.

His method, though predominantly intuitive, is based on wide practical experience.

Experiences of this nature can be rationalized to a large extent, that is to say they admit of a rational explanation once they have happened.

Apart from routine, however, the manner in which they are obtained depends at all decisive points on a finely differentiated, creative intuition which is in itself a special talent.

Hence persons with nothing but an average intelligence can hardly be expected to master the method.

There is, nevertheless, a definite possibility that people who are intuitively gifted will be able to obtain similar results provided they are properly taught and trained.

Intuition is not by any means an isolated gift but a regular function which is capable of being developed.

Like the functions of seeing and hearing it has a specific field of experience and a specific range of knowledge based upon this.

The findings presented in this book are of fundamental importance for psychologists, doctors, and teachers.

Spier’s chirology is a valuable contribution to the study of human character in its widest sense.  ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 820-821