Review of Science and Personality by W. Brown
This volume contains the substance of three lectures delivered at Yale University in 1928 and six or eight occasional papers previously published. The slender thread that holds them together is the interest of the author in religion, which he seeks to justify by science. Dr. Brown, who is a physician, considers that faith is based on scientific evidence, including the important evidence of spiritualistic mediums, though his belief in immortality he regards as resting on "internal evidence," by which he apparently means his own deep-seated desires.
The book can have little interest to social psychologists, for the view of personality is one of extreme individualism. Religion is set forth as a matter of individual attitude, with complete neglect of the vast array of material which deals with the influence of culture on the development of the religious experience of the believer. Dr. Brown's interest in philosophy and religion leads him to give a brief characterization of behaviorism, psychoanalysis, psychical research, and the work of the Russian physiologists. All these interests, however, are subordinate in this volume to his religious interest, and he is able not only to prove scientifically the existence of God, but also finds scientific proof of Christianity and the gospel story,
The verbatim accounts of mediumistic sťances and of some case histories are to the reviewer the most interesting. These carefully prepared records will enable the reader to decide on the basis of the facts presented how far the existence of ghosts is demonstrable. To the author they seem conclusive; to the reviewer such a conclusion seems far-fetched. Perhaps here, as elsewhere, the matter is so uncertain that the verdict will probably be determined primarily by the bias of the reader.
Religion is thought of not only as an individual experience but as divorced from historical influences. The type of arguments here used was most convincing in the seventeenth century, at which time the ideas cur-rent in society had not been historically traced, and seemed to be innate and eternal.
There is revealed in this book a sincere and serious personality whose earnest desire to support the truth of Christianity by appeal to occult phenomena is in harmony with a certain trend in England since the war. Perhaps the tragic losses of 1914 to 1918 may be the underlying explanation of this remarkable movement to support, like Uzzah, an ark that needs no such help.
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO