Appleton & Company have recently published a book by Professor Shaler, entitled "The Individual: "A Study of Life and Death." The book is a carefully reasoned discussion of the arguments suggested by modern science in favor of immortality.
The conception of men as to their place in the world has been much changed by scientific developments in recent times. The old idea that the world and all its living tenants were suddenly created is is giving way to the conviction that men of every age are a part of a vast, orderly development of which none know the beginning or the end.
Professor Shaler holds that the facts established by evolution point clearly and surely to the conclusion that there is an intelligent principle in control of the Universe. "To those," he says, "who have devoted themselves to natural inquiry, at the same time keeping their minds open to the large impression which that field affords, there generally comes a conviction as to the essential rationality of the operation. They have to consider facts which cannot be otherwise that a mighty kinsman of man is at work behind it all. Again and again the naturlist feels that this or that feature of the order exactly satisfies him, just as he feels that the turn of a phrase or the shape of a thought in an author is after his own mind. In fact, to the inquirer this recognition of himself, of his own intellectual quality in the events he is considering, gives the sense of the highest pleasure which his occupation affords."
It may be true, Professor Shaler acknowledges, that this intellectual quality akin to their own which men believe they see through the harmony of natural laws is but an imagination and an unreal theory. Personally, Professor Shaler believes it is not unreal, but is a scientific fact. By a series of illustrations he strives to prove that the fundamental processes of nature are so closly akin to the workings of the minds of men that we cannot escape the belief that some infinite and unmortal intelligence is back of all natural phenomena.
Professor Shaler agrees with Professor James in rejecting the old belief that consciousness is but a function of the brain and that, therefore, without a material brain consciousness is impossible. He also believes in the newer thought that the mechanism of the brain does not directly produce conciousness, but is the instrument through which an infinite consciousness influences men's personalities and finds expression in their lives.