Robert h-kirven-emanuel-swedenborg-and-the-revolt-against-deism-brandeis-uty-ma-1965


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Robert h-kirven-emanuel-swedenborg-and-the-revolt-against-deism-brandeis-uty-ma-1965

  1. 1. EMAHUEL SWEDENBalG MD niE REVOLT AGAINST DEISM A Dissertation Presented toThe Faculty or the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Brandeis University Department of History of Ideas In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Degree . Doctor of Philosophy By Robert H. Kirven I April 196,5 ProCessor Herbert Marcuse Principal Advisor
  2. 2. . 1hIa c:Uuertatloa ha bMD ., j mlaofllmed euc;t1,. u ree:e-cl 65-14,424 ! IKIRVEN, Robert H•• 1926­ EMANUEL SWEDENBORG AND THE REVOLT An....mST DEISM. I Brandeis University. Fh.D•• 1965 Philosophy University Microfilms. Inc., Ann AlOOf, Michigan.
  3. 3. @ Copyright byRobert H. Kirven 1966
  4. 4. ·This dissertation, directed and approved by the candidate.Committee, has been accepted and approved by the GraduateFacqlty of Brandeis University in partial fulfillment ofthe requirements for the Degree of DOCTOaOF PHILOSOPHY JUN .,.. ,.. " DateDissertation Committee
  5. 5. TABLE OF CClITENTS .ager-I LIST OF ABBREVIATI~S. • • • • · . . • • • • • • • • • vi INTRCDUCTI~ • • • • • • • • • • . . . . . . .. . . . 1 The Problem ot IndIvIdual Ideas and Intellectual Movements • • • • • • • • • • • • 1 "Swedenborg and the Revolt AgaInst OeIs.­ as a Signiticant Case Study• • • • • • • • • • 3 c- The Background ot the Revolt Against DeIs• • • • S Swedenborg and DeIs• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 12 A ContrIbutIon to the Revolt AgaInst DeIs.: Swedenborgs Idea ot EmpIrIcal RevelatIon • • • 16 Plan ot theStudy• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 24 Notes. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 27 PART I. SWEDENBCRG S C~CEPT AND THE KEY ISSUES . CF THE REVa.T ~ haPter (~ E~"PIRICL REVELATIOO AND THE BASIC ~ PlU::SUPPOSI1I~S OF RELIGIaJS THaJGHT • • • • • 32 Relevant Factors In the G~rman Intellectual Climate, c. l~SO: PIetIsm, and HistorIcal CrIticism: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 32 PIetIsm~ • • • • • • • ·...... Historical Criticism: J. A. ErnestI • • • • • •• ••• 33 3$ German Reaction to Swedenborg. Pre_~~stlcal Phllo~Qphy • • • • • • • • • • • 44 lroJ:."nuel Kant, "od His Reaction to ,~w~danborg • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •• 46 -:.. Two DacC"18nts. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 4./ The Three An~c~~t.,. • • . .......... 50 jtan t s Amb i gill toy • • • • • • • • • • • • • I 51 IH
  6. 6. Chapter Page Kants Reaction to Swedenborg• • • • • • • • • 57 F. C. Oetingers Reaction to Swedenborg• • • • 65· The Religious View. • • • • • • • • •• 70 The Philosophical View • • • • • • • • • • • 71 The Theological View • • • • • • • • • • • • 79 Cr-iteria for Judgment of Empirical Revelation • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 82 The Course of Development of Oetingers .Attitude • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 85 Minor Reactions to Swedenborg. • • • • • • •• 90 Heinrich Clemm • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 90 Johann ~aspar Lavater. • • • • • • • • • • • . 93 Summary Conclusion • • • . • • • • • • • • • • • 95 N~te.. • • • • • • • • • • • .. • • •• • • • 96 SPEC IAL REVELAT ICN, CHURCH REFOOM AND SECTARIANISM • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 109 Thomas Hartley (1707.1784) • • • • • • • • • • 118 John Clawes (1743-1831) • • • • • • • • • • • • 127 Robert Hindmarsh (1759-1835l-.--.~• • • • • • • 135 ( Swedenborgs RevelaUon: the RepUe. JJ to Dr. Priestly. • • •• • •••••••• 141 Notes. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 1$0CD POLF.MICAL AND ANALYTICAL CRIGINS CE THE PSYCHOLOGY CE RELIGION • • • • • • • • • ·. • 158 P~~JmJlca! ~!y~hology or Religions ..:!.Oh~Y!.l • • • • • • • • • • • •• •• 164 • Analytical Psychology or Religions Johann Gottfried Herder. • • • • • • • • • • 173 Not... • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •• • • • • 184 PART II. SWEDENBORG S ccrC~PT AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE REVOLT® DEVELOPMENTS IN ~~Gl.AND • • • • • • • • • • • • • 188 Th~ Sectarian =0Sdenborgian Traditio~• • • • • 190 ___ T~e Romantic Swedenborgian Tradition in England • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 198 Iv
  7. 7. Chapter Page 1. William Blake • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 198 2. Sou they ana e Quincey Contra ·Swedenborg • • • • . • • • • • • 204 3. Coleridge on Swedenborg• • • • • • • • • 206 Summary of the English Developments • • • • • • 211 Notes • • • • • 4e ••••••••••••••• 213 ~ DEVELOPMENTS IN FRANCE • • • • • • • • • • • • • 211 The Expatriates. • • • • • • • • • • • • • 219 The Intellectuals• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 226 Personal Revolts. • • • • • • • •••• 228 The Ecclesiastical Movement • • • • • • • • • • 239 Honor de Balzac • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 243 Conclusion • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 253 Notes. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 254 ® GERMAN DEVELOPMENTS• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 259 Romantic Literature • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 259 Romantic Philosophy• • • • • • • • • • • • • • 265 Johann Friedrich Immanuel iafel • • • • • • • • 21i ~ilosophy • . • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 278 Ecclesiology • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 284 Psychology • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 290 Summary. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 294 Notes. e •• _ • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 296,- CONCLUS ICJl • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 301 Swedenborgs Idea: "Empirical P . &lation" •• 301 The Revolt Against Deism • • • • • • . • • • • • 309 General Conclusions • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 311 Note.. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 323 B IBL100RAPHY • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 324 v
  8. 8. LIST OF ABBREVIATICNS USED FCR SWEDENBORGS WORKS!& Co·r, Al"cana..)_-Arcana Coelestla, etc. (The Heavenly Myster­ Ies, which are in tht: Sacred Scripture or the Word ot the Lord; disclosed). London: John Lewls, 1749-S6. !l-g~~s.Ad_~versarla. (Written 1745-46, published posthumously by-- J. F. I. Tafel, Tublngen: Verlagsexpedltlon, 1842-47, six volumes). References are also given for the English translation, which has Incompatible paragraph number.s The Word Explained, 10 volumes (Bryn Athyn, Pa.s The Academy of the New Church, 1948-51).~--Apocalypsls Expllc~ta (The Apocalypse Explained according to its spiritual sense, wherein are revealed the myster ­ ies there foretold), 4 volumes. (Written 1745-59, pub_ lished posthumously by Robert Hlndmarsh (London: Robert Hindmarsh, 1785-89).~_-Apocalypsis Revelat~ (The Apocalypse Revealed, wherein are disclosed the mysteries there foretold, which have hith­ erto remained concealed). Amsterdam: ~priv~te), 1766.De Anlma__ (On the Soul), Part VII of Regnum Anlmale (~), ~.~. English translation, The So~l, or Hatlonal Psychology (New York: New Church Board of PUblication, 1887).Doe, Llfe_..Doc . Ina Vitae pro Nova Hlerosoh;ma ex praecepUs Oecalooi (Uoctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem from the precepts of the Decalogue). Amsterdam: 1763.DLW_..De Divino Amore et de Divine Saplentla (Angelic Wisdom- concerning the Divine Love and the DIvine Wisdom). New York: American Swedenborg Printing and Publ~shing Society, 1890. .DP_-Dlvina ~ vldentia (Angelic Wisdom respecting Divine-- Providence). Amsterdam: 1764.E~U._-Qe TeJlurfbus in Mundo nostro Solari, etc. (Ear.ths in tha UnlverQe; or, ~arths in our Solar System which are called ~lanets, and the earths in t~e ,tarry ~eavens; the 11" Inhabitants, and also tile spirl ts and angels there; from things heard and seen). London: 1756.liruD" Cuto et CW,.us mrl.b111.h "s,a"J..L.!!! In~r""J ~x a.1.cUj},! et. vb! .. [Heaven and h .1 J or, H(l., ;,;" !.nd :i ls wonders, and of Hell, from things Heard and Seen). Londons 17S6. vi
  9. 9. Infin ••-Prodromus Philosophiae ratiocinatis de Infinite et----- causa finali Creationis: deque mechanismo opera--Animae et Corporis ("On the Infinite n or, Preliminary attempt at a philosophical argument on the Infinite, and on the final cause of Creation; and on the mechanism of the operation of the Soul and Body). Dresden/Leipzig: Hekel, 1734. .11-.oe Ultimo Judicio, etc. (The Last Judgment and the Destruc. tion of Babylon, showing that what was foretold in the Book of Revelation has been fulfilled in the present day; from things heard and seen). London: 1758.On Influx_.oe Commercio Animae et Corporis, etc. (The Inter_ course between the 50ul and the Body, which is supposed to take place either by physical influx, or by spiritual influx, or by pre_established harmony). London: 1769.S!!--Qeconomia Regni Animalis (The usual English title, "Econ. omy of the Animal Kingdom" is misleading; "Function (or Structure) of the Domain of the Soul" is more descrip. tive of the work). English trans. London: Newber,y, 1845-46.~ •••Principia Rerum Naturalium, etc. (The First Principles of Natural 1bings, being new attempts toward a philoso. phical explanation of the elementar,y world). "Part I­ of era Philoso hica et Mineralia, 3 vols. Dresdeq/ Leipzig: ekel, 17 • n~lish translation, 2 vols., London: W. Newbery, 1845-46-;---­RA••Reqnum Animale, etc. (The Animal Kingdom [i.e., the Souls-- --nomain] considered anatomically, physically and philo. sophically). 1743-44. Several volumes of this work were projected, but it was dropped at the beginning or Swedenborgs psychic experiences. Of the volumes edited and published posthumously, two are cited in this work: De Anima (~.v.) and Part I (On the viscera of the abdo. men; Which aTso includes a "Prologue" to the Whole work).S.1J English translation, London: W. Newbe~y, 1843.TCR__Vera Christiana Reliaio (True Christian Religion).--- Amsterdam: 1771.~._T!)e lord Explained, Engli3h title or :y!,ersaria (M), g,•.J!. NarES TO ABBREVlATIOlSUnlessoth9~lse noted, all works are available ina numberof English translattons, including thos~ of the SwedenborgFoundation, New York; most quotations are drawn from theseeditions. Also, unless olheniis" no"~l, all references are toparagraph numbers, rather than to payes, the former being uni.form in all editions and translations. vU
  10. 10. INTROOOCTIaf The Problem or Individual Ideas and Intellectual Movements The texts to be examined In this essay In thehistory or Ideas have two things In common. The subject ot each Is an Idea which vas posed and developed by a ma•. named Emanuel Swedenborg; the author ot each vas a _. Involved In the Intellectual movement known as the Revoltagainst Del... Thus. tro. the outset. the st.dy Involve•.assumptions about the problematic relationship between the Individual and the collective; and In the end. It testltl•• tor or against the validity ot these assumptlons./ Sloee sophlcal. an~se ­ the treatment ot material Is historical. rather than phllo­ .. assumptions are not prominently explicit In the course ot the study. It Is necessary to state the. brletly by way ot Introdactlon. I The tlrst ot these assumptions Is axiomatic. and the second Is at least presumptively valid; they are stated here to show the limits ot what Is pre-supposed.~There are such things as Individual Ideas. which In some sense are originated l by one man; and· thes. m~y be distinguished and Identltled I by their author and the date ot these expresslons.r Secondly. there ~~e historical instances In whlch,lt Is usetul to study 1
  11. 11. 2a particular set ot Ideas as a unit, because the Idea.within the group stand In a relation to each other thatIs slgnltlcantly dltterent trom their relation to otherIdeas. Such a group ot Ideas l~vol~lng many Individual. j ,may be called an Intellectual-moveme~,~hensome_coherent _I ternal resslon distinguishes It trom an Intellectualdevelopment, or trom variations ot a single Idea (e.g., ·the"Copernican Revolution, or the _Idea ot Progress); and whensome geographical dlver$lty among the authors, and the ab ­sence ot one determining Idea or author, distinguishes Ittrom a school (e.g., the TUblngen, or the Hegellan school). this detlnltlon ot an Intellectual aovement entail.the assumption that the relationship between Individual -Ideas and whole .oveaents Is necessarily complex. The dl.­tinction between a MOvement and ·a development preclude.the possibilIty that one Idea could have the same relatIonshIpto all the Idea. wIthIn a movement; and the dIstInctIon be ­tween a movement and a .chool excludes decIsIve determlnatlon- ­In either dlrectlon--as characterizIng the relationshIp be­tween an Idea and a movement. Cause-and-ettect relationship.In this situation are pluralistic and relative. Internal a.well as external relatlon8hlps may be slgnltlcantly Intlu­entlal In either a positive or a negative way. On the ba.l. ot these pre-supposltlon., It I.a ••um~d hypothetically that the characteristic relationshipbetween an Idea and a movell:tu t• la one ott Interaction, j a. In
  12. 12. the case ot Swedenborgs idea ot, emp...!rical revelation,l andthe movement known as the Revolt against »eh.. "Swedenborg and the Revolt against ~i~· as a Significant case studY Swedenborg participated in the Revolt against Deisa,but, was not determined by it. His par~icipation will beshown by the course ot development of bis thougbt in co~parison to Deism in general, and by the siailarltles aDddifferences between his final position and that of a repre­sentative deist, Mattb~ Tlndal. Tbese coaparlsons demon­strate that Swedenborg vas seriously affected by De I sa, aDdthat he sought an effective alternative. Svedenborg.relative independence vis-A-vis the Revolt will beco..apparent trom the fact that his reaction vas atypical of themovement as a whole. On the other side of the coin, Swedenborg influencedthe Revolt, without either originating It, or decisivelydetermining It. His Influence will be demonstrated by theexplicit textual references; that he did not originate, ordecisively determine the movement, .ay be assumed from theconsensus of hIstorians, and tacitly demonstrated by the analyses In this study. In addition to being actaal, and mutually but notdecisively Influential, the relationship between Swedenborgand the Revolt against. Dehm may be ;;:onsldoilied a significant
  13. 13. 4 one as well, If an Investigation of It, reveals any n~~­---_.torlcal Inslghts. Su~h Inslghts might further Illualne the meaning and the Influence ot Swedenborg1s thought; the development of the thought of any of the subject authors; or the structure of Inter-relationships between key Ideas Within the Revolt against Deism, and between th!-Revolt and Deism Itself. Any significant results produced by this ] Inquiry may provide (evidence In suppor~ o~ the thesis that . t~e relationship between Ideas and movements Is 0_ ot ~~~!~action; and also of a corollary, that analysis ot(minor, or non-determinative, Idea~ Is Important·to tba understanding of an intellectual movement, and ot the thought.ot all who participate In It. this hypothesis and Its corollary bear l~rt8nt J Implications tor the study of primary historical source., tor th~y suggest a standard for the evaluation ot texts that Is relatively Independent of their direct Influence or Independent significance In the history of thought. In the present paper, tor example, It will be seen that the sectar ­ lan Swedenborglan movement, called the New Church, became a dominating stream of the Swedenbcrglan t~adltlon, and vas largely det~:~!natIve - ot thp. Issue on which the principal Interaction o-:cutud bet"een 5i·~de:.borll s Idea and the Revolt against De~~m. Th~ fact t~at ~h~ tonnd~ --- the New Ch~rch ar~ se~n her~ and HerdtJr, for in-:tar,:e, d.::·, as ! I~t ~!rect r~r~end~r. with Kant Imply" "Jahe JUdgMnt on
  14. 14. stheir relative historical significance; It simply describesthe Incompatibility of the different lines of tr~nsmlsslonof Swedenborglan thought, and the effect of this Incompat-Ibility on the kind of Interaction which took place betweenthe . Idea and the movement under examination. The Backaround of the Revolt against Dels. Some of the seeds of the anti-deist revolt may havebeen older than Deism Itself. In Its definitive form- English~IS~Of the early eighteenth century--the religious thought --of Rationalism was a product 0 Natural Theologylandlratlo~­ list. PhIlOSOPhy.lj ~ Westfall has pointed out so clearly, the NaturalTheology of Boyle, Ray, Newton and others, was radicallyambiguous: the very force of their Insistence that naturalscience coul claims be ond any shadow ofdoubt, amounted to a covert admission of concerning doub~any religious claim that had not been so proved. 2 For Locke,the notion Implied In his title, the - Rea~onablen~ss of - Christianity (1695) redounded to the credit of Reason; re- -Ilglon needed defense, but reason did not.Involved no overt attack on revealed religion, It ratherIgnored It as such. Vh~t was revealed, and also $ubJect torational proof, was acceptable. What vu. revealed, but notdemonstrable, could not be consl~Hed as v~ry Import."nt toreasonable men. An intent to d~reud the Chrlstf~n religion
  15. 15. 6 had led to a reconstitution of It. this re on~LLt~s Inconsistent with the ,supernaturallst ontology, and the ·ab.­ solute epistemological authority of Holy Scripture, that together formed the basis of traditional Christianity; but It had not faced the Inconsistency, nor deflnedits new philosophical pre-supposltlons. It was, in a sense, a reli­ gion without a philosophy. Considered as a philosophy of religion, the classicalRationalism of Descartes, Lelbnltz and Wolff was distinguished by the dualism of Its ontological and epistemological theories,and by the plstemoloa!cal.authorlty given to the faculty ofReason. 1 The duall ty, variously expressed as mind and body, _ thought and extension, spirit and matter, or other equival­ent ldlchotomles) divided all o! reallt~ ~nto two parts:each equally real, but discretely dls~inct, with no attributes ,or qualities shared by both. Extended to theolog , thisrontology]carrles with It not only dualisms perennial problemof communication between the two kinds of reality, but alsoa problem of values: equal r~allty Implying equal signifi­cance In God and Creation, soul and body. Interdependentwith ontological dualism Is Rationalisms characteristicepistemological dualism: two distinct faculties of percep­ tion Inform two distinct systems ot kno~ledge, and the •• .perceptions andsystems are somehoY ~nlted (the vagueness of the -how· having bean cloq~ed In ~ermlnologlc~l explanations,e.g., -oc~aslonal cause- or ·pre-establlsh~d harmony-) In the
  16. 16. 7Reason--the reasoning faculty of man, This dualism providesclear epistemological support for the method of NaturalTheology, but the corollary entails an important further stepwhich the .natural theologians did not take. PhilosophicalRationalism, seeing the dual ism of knowledge united in Reason,makes Reason the ultimate epistemological authority. SinceReason is a human faculty, however, the theological consequenceof this is the authoritative superiority of human reason overrevelatJon. ~ a general theological position, Deism vas charac­terized by explicit expression of the implications Inherentin Natural Theology and Rationalism. On the basis of themechanistic world-view of the natural theologians, It des­cribed God In the transcendent--and specifically nonlmmanent-­role sYmbolized by the -watchmaker- analogy. On the basisof rationalist onology and epistemology, It ascribed equalstatus to spirit and nature, and to revealed and perceivedknowledge at least In principle. However, where traditionaltheology had made revelation superior to reason, and NaturalTheology had made them eq~at" .the rationalhtic corollary-­that Reason is ultimately authorltatlve--tended to prevailIn practlce. Thus Deism In g~neral represented the religiouscons~quence of the rapidly advancing· natural science, andof the philosophical Rationalism. The elevation of reasonover revelation made Deism the religious thought otEmpiricism as well. Rationalism and Empiflcl~m had little -- --- ~else In common, but Ideas Intuited from perception, and
  17. 17. 8 ideas directly resultingfrom perception, could and did serve as ··c03rdinate alternatives to revealed ideas, in the deistic attack on the authority of revelation. ~ismas a general theological position found its paradigm in English Deism of the early eighteenth century.C:Herbert of Cherbury]CDe Veritate, 1624) is usually regarded as -the Father of Deism,- because of the implications ot his Natural Theologt; but the definitive explicit Deism can be date {from 1696 to derive froa the pUblication of Mysterious at the beginning of the period, an ----~ Christianity as Old as the Creation: or, the Gospel. RepUblication of the Religion of Nature. This dating in ­ cludes T~d, Shaftesbury, Wh~n, Collins, Vollaston, Voolston andfTindal1 as the pri~y deistic writers; Herbert - ot Cherbury, Hobbes, Tillotson, Locke and Blount as the main precursors; and Chubb, Bolingbroke and Hume as the main figures in its decline. The fact that~ound its ~~~isti~ expression i~ En land = most complete and oes not mean that it !l was an. internati~nal movement. The samelcontext ot philosophical and religious problems hat produced English Deism were present and important in France and Germany as 11sh daists, in the original language and in translation, found signirIc~nt readershIp and accept ­ ance in those countries. He.1 ,t or Cherburya work was as ~
  18. 18. 9 well known In France as In"England;3 To land. Colllns. ------ Ro an ---- Woolston and other Deists were translated Into French; and ....--.. Voltalre circulated characteristically dehUc vlews. 4 In Germany. ~~tz and Moshe Im had commented on Toland. C. M. Pfaff on~lns, and Lemker on Woolst~n;S -- =--- - -- ­ - - and beginning as early as 1714. delstlc writers were the SUbject of academic debates and controversial writings In the German universities. particularly Helmstldt and TUblnsen. 6 r;lnda~7 wor~. famo~s as the so-called~~sf Blbre;-"j:". translated Into G!:ma~ln 1741. 7 Even where the Revolt against Deism was directed against Deism as a ~eneral_posl­ tlon In religious thought. rather than against! the EngliSh] Delst~-of 1696-1730J these writers represent a sort or ( paradigm of the explicit. When It occurred. from another quarter. and on a different basis. than the antl-del~t polemic Which had been prosecuted with vlgor by the detenders ot Pietism, Protestant Scholasticism. Thomls., -- and other traditional torms ot Christianity. - The was conservative, callln tor a reJecti~n ot Deism. and a return to "true rellglon.- The Revolt. on the other hand. ((I developed a~o~~ ~en who had been Influenced by Deism. or by the forces that had shaped It. to~ strongly to turn back.;C Those who revolted In detense of a tradition did so by seeking a new ground that would be more .dequate than the ) l old ground which the deists had cut away. and mOr~ adequate
  19. 19. .10 than Deism itself. Others, apparently feeling that Deisa represented an indecisive break with~n UDs~tlsfactory trad­~ - Ition, sought a cleaner break with Christianity, or at lea.t with the church. For the former group Deisa vas not religious enough to be an adequate system of religious thought; for the too reli io~s; but for both, anl acceptable alternative to Deism had to be consonant with modern advance. In science, systematically adequate, and convincing Without appeal to tradition as an authority. In Germany, where the concern at first vas prl. .rlly with the p~ilosophlcal pre-supposltlons required for a .ore adequate alternative to Deism, the Revolt centered on onto­ logllcal and epistemological issues. ---- As has been noted, Delsa vas dualistic In these respects. The ground of Its develop­ me~~~~ - the progressive nature of the Revolt, precladed - a return to Su ernaturalism. Therefore were toward a theoretical or practical Naturalism, on the t~ open alter~lves ~~or, 0 alnd ~ and body, spirit subs tan­ t..!!.!..- !:!a 11 ty• aware that this op~ to ontologl­ cal dual~ vas -named- In the eighteenth or early nineteenth I --.J centurits, though It vas e~presse~ptlvely. It vas used by Swedenborg In the foundation of his system, and appea~8 ~o have been the goal of a tendency in the thought of some of his commentators,L8~ a title for-!t-ls ~1ded In this study. From ~s a~1 Progoft, I have borraved the -
  20. 20. 11 --signifying the notion that spirit and matterare equally and similarly objectl~ely real, togethera whol;]that Is Indivisible except In Intellectual" conception ~oralDg - :::::::==- -- 8based on Incomple~e perception. The term Is not completelysatisfactory, because It Is also used In a largely Irrelevantcontext, by those who attribute a special ontological statusto collectlvltles. The obvious alternative, however, wouldbe 5is::;1 and this ~rm Is ~s~ I-n precisely the presentcontext, with materialistic Implications which specificallycontradict Swedenborgs position. Because Smuts. andespecially Pr~off. have :used[~ollaIQ. th:=:xact senseIntended here. and the contusion comes from what really Isanother field. It seems the best word for the purpose--aslong as Its special usage Is kept In mind. 1. In England.] where phllosophlcal and theologicalIssues had become Inseparably Involved with Institutionalforms and practices. the.Revolt centered on the question ofreforming the established church. or separating from It.France reflected both the philosophical and institutionaldevelopments, less decisively than England or ~rmany. Emanuel Swedenborg. whose personal revolt againstDeiam was ~fle~ted in his writings on cystical theologyas compareJ With his writings on natural philosophy. vasa subject of comment and some controversy, on all si4es ofthe Revolt a8 just de3cribad. The ex. eais of these coa.entsand controversies, Which forms ~he body or this stUdy. reqUire.
  21. 21. 12 a brief Introductory description of Swedenborg, and of his Idea which was central to his contribution to the Revolt against Deism. Swedenborg and Deism Emanuel Swedenborg (E. Stockbom, 1688; ~. London, 1772) was the son of a pletlst Lutheran bishop and court preacher. Graduated from Upsala, he studied on the Continent and in England; became proficient In mathematics and mechanics, and well-Informed In the natural sciences. He took an appolnt­ .ent to the mining bureau, working at these duties while he pursued an avocation of Investigations In natural science and philosophy. He published nine books (leaving several more In manuscript), as well as articles and pamphlets on cosmogony, physics, chemistry, physiology, psychology and other subjects. Like the seventeenth century Christian Virtuosi, he was seeking. sclCAU.t c support tor religious__belief; be wanted to tlnd the soul. 9 As a rationalist, hewas convinced that the soul was a~ce$slbleto rational . .discovery and demonstratlon. lO Slgnlt!cant yarallels, and a~undant explicit references, clearly show him ... line with . In the scientific rationalism of Descartes, Woltf, Boyle,. Newton and others. He stood close ~nough to Deism to be tully qualified to revolt against It. His revolt occurred ~etwten 1743 and 1745, ~her. be aban-:01"ld the natural sciences as the ground ot his pili:)$ ,hy,
  22. 22. 1)replacing it with mystical experiences. Even after thisrevo1t--decisive as it was--he remained close enough toDeism to suggest thatrto a considerable extent, his was arevolt from within. Matthew Tinda1 1 s Christianity as old asthe Creation may be taken as repres~ntativ.e o~ deist thought;a brief comparison with Swedenborg will clarify the kinds otsimilarities and differences. Tinda1 had four main assertions about what religion!! (along with much, in the vein of characteristically deisticiconoclasm, about what it is not): religion is reasonable,et~a1, natural, and selfish. The first and most i~ortant point--the reasonable­ness of re1igion--is repeated many times In many ways. On.of the clearest Is: God [has) designed all Mankind should at a1f Times know, what he wills them to know, believe and practice; and has given them no other Means for this, but the Use of Reason• • • • What God requires us to know, believe and practice, must in itself be a reasonable Service; but whether what is offered to us as such, be really so, Itls Reason alone which must JUd9e.~Swedenborg agreed fully In 1734. Philosophy, If it be truly rational, can never be con­ trary to revelation• • • • The rational cannot be cont~ary to the Divine; since the end for which reason is given us, is, that ve may be empo·",er~d to perceive that there Is a God, and to know that He Is to be wor­ shfpped. 12He agreed again, in 1770, When he had a vision of a temp1.,with -this inscription above the door, Nunc tlc?t, which
  23. 23. signified that now It Is permitted to enter with theunderstanding Into the mysteries of faith. I) The Intervalbetween these two statements. and the differences In them.suggest that Swedenborg the mystic theologian held reasonIn as much esteem as did Tlndal. but In doing so, he expanded-his definition of reason from the one he originally sharedwith the Deists. Tlndalts second assertion, that religion Is ethical.stems from his definition of -Natural Rellglon.- as consist ­Ing of three essential elements: belief In Gods existence. ­knowledge of our relation to him and to our fellow-creatures.and practice of his wlll. 14 Which of these three Is mostImportant Is soon made clear: -We may define True Religionto consist In a constant Disposition of Mind to do all the -----Good we can.- -t - In spite of one maJor difference. this --closely resembles Swedenborg: There are three essentials of the Church,--the acknowledgment of the Divine of the Lord, the acknowledg ­ ment of the hQllgess of the Word. and the life which Is called charity.! ., All religion has to do with life. and the life of religion to do that which Is good. l ?The difference here--In the second essential. since Tlndalhad no Interest In -the holiness of the brd"--Is not complete;for Swedenborg, this would Include all that Tlndal IntendedIn his second e3sentlal. Th~ primacy of ethical practice Isentirely parallel.
  24. 24. IS Tindals fou~~h principle, the naturalness ot-religion, may be epitomized in two statements: Gods Will is so clearly, and fully manifested in the Book of Nature, that he who runs may read it. 18 Was there an instituted Religion which di££~ from that ) o~ature, its Precepts must be arbitrary, as not founded .) on the Reason and Nature of Things, b d~pending on meer [sic] Will and Pleasure • • • • God, the great-Gov~or of the n[verse, cant give mankind any such Precepts. 19Similarly, Swedenborg: In nature are represented the celestial goods and truths which are of Heaven.20 God t s omnipotence does not enable Him to do this [transform men outside the orderly nature of things, and against mants will], for the reason that It would be contrary to the laws of His order In the universe, and at the same time contrary to the laws of order enjoined upon every man. 21 Tindalts fourth assertion, that religion Is Whollydevoted to the "l~lf!!.e and happiness of him. who beUevesand practices It, 22 Is ~d . to a limited extent by ~ r1.J.J ,...A d<>-J­ u-.fJ .......... 1"-"~.denborgts claim that self-love, Including enjoyment otthe wealth and status attendant on doing important work,is an essential part of true religlon. 23 But Swedenborgemphasizes repeatedly In the same passage, that this istrue only when self-love is subordinated to love to theneighbor, and both of these are subordinated to love tothe Lord. 24 Tindal assumes that doing good for othersmakes men happy,25 but says nothing about loving God- ­worship being merely for elevating the mind. 26
  25. 25. The differences between Swedenborg and Tlndal can besummed up rather simply, and the summation would hold fora more detailed comparison. S~o~~ made stateme~parall~lto almost every positive assertion made by the deists; In somecases (as especially In point four), he would place the asser­tion In a larger context; ~, he mad~ny more assertionst~w~-!e unacceptable to Deism. Swedenborgs personal re­volt against Deism was essentially n expansion of the deistconcept of religion, on the grounds o~lhls conviction thatDeism was not reIl lous enough to be an adequate system orrellglous thought. If His expansion was prlmarlly In the dlrec- tlon of InclUding mystical, or spiritual, concepts In his ---~....;;..--system of thou9htWhe tried to make this Inclusion co~entwith his own Inclination toward Rationalism and scientificmethod. It was In thl~ attempt that he developed the Idea ~that constituted his major contribution to the generalRevolt against Deism. A Contribution to the Revolt a~alnstDelsm: ~{enborgis Idea ef implrlca Revelation In 1769, Swedenborg described himself In an auto­biographical letter written at a friends request. He beganby listing his travels, his public service and recognltlons,his scientific accomplishments, family connections, hlghly­ ---.placed friends and royal favor. -But all that I have thusfar related,- he continued, -I consider of comparatively
  26. 26. 17little importance.- "What ~ important, he said, ~s hisChrist-vision of 1743, and the extraordinary experiences thatfolloved. He [the Lord] opened my sight into the spiritual world, and enabled me to converse with spirits and angels, in which state I have continued to the present day. Fro. that time, I began to print and publish the various arcana that were seen by me or revealed to me, concerning • • • most important matters conducive to salvation and wlsdom. 2 7 Some of his works bore the subtitle, -tro. thingsheard and ,seen (ex audltls et vlsu), _28 and bls chief work,Arcana Coelestla (1747-58), Includes In the tull title,-wondertul things seen In the worldot spirits and theheaven of angels.- He recounted hundreds of conversationswith spirits, visits to places In the spiritual world, andother such experiences. - otten these accounts vere casualreferences In the course ot a discussion; but trequently,too, he would narrate one or a group of such anecdotes, atlength, under the heading of -Memorabllla---somevhat afterthe manner of the then-tashlonable memorabilia ot travelersreturned from the OTient, Atrlca, or South ~rlca. He ~snot writing tor entertainment, however, nvr to satlsty Idlecuriosity. He maintained that these stories were written the Lord Himself • • • has sent me to do that Which 1 am doing now, and • • • for this pur!o5e he has opened the int~riois of my mind, whl,h ar~ th,jtS" of my spirit, so that I rr£y S~€ those things ~hich Are In the spiritual world, and hear those who are there. 2 9
  27. 27. 18What he vrote as a result of these experiences of seeingand hearing, came under the category of ·revelation,· asopposed to "predictions,· (Revelatlones, prophetiae), andvere ·sensible revelations· (revelatio sen$ibiliter fiebat ,as distinct from automatic vriting, or verbal inspiration. 30He claimed to have experienced the other varieties ot revel­ ~ation, too, so that he knev vhat they vere, but he did notuse them in his published vorks. Further, iD-C_qntradistlnc­tion to that revelation vhich he said Is universally acees­.-­ )1 ­sible through proper reading of the Bible, his experiencesof seeing and conversing vlth spirits and angels constituted·immediate revelation" (immediata Revelatlo).32 ----- SvedeQborg vas avare that his claim to Immediaterevelation by means of sensible experience I n the spiritualof supportln~ --------- -vorld vould be hard to accept, and he offered various kinds evidence and explanation. One kind of support might be called the evidence otempirical certainty: I am veil avare that many persons viii Insist that It is Impossible for anyone to converse vith spirits and angels during his life In the body; many, that such Intercourse-must be mere fancy; some; that I have In­ vented such relations In order to gain credit; vhllst others viII make other objections; for all these, hovever, I c~je not, since I have heard, 1 have seen, 1 have felt.Here and elsevhere, Svedenborgs certainty regarding hi.psychic experiences appears equivalent to the certainty that
  28. 28. 19normally accompanies sense perception. To the certaintythat be did see and hear something, ~s added the certaintythat he saw and heard clearly and distinctly: 1 affirm In truth that they [the Memorabilia] are not Inventions, but were truly seen and heard; not seen or heard In any slee~~ng state of mind, but In a state ot full ~kefulness. ~ -- Another kind of evidence might be called comparativedata. Clearly, this was his favorlte. A kind of -formula­recurs on what may veil be an average of once per page:"That [A Is B (an assertion based on his empirical revelation)]may be seen from [C, D, E, • • • N (comparative observatlons»). ­Most frequently, the comparative observations were biblicaltexts,35 a preference for which he had a systematic basls. 36Sometlme3, however, the comparisons were drawn from observationsIn nature,37 from general human experlence,38 from the tradi­tions of the Church,39 and from other sources. -- Also In support of his assertions, "he adduces anexplanation based partly on his empirical revelation, butbased equally on the psychological theory he had elaboratedat length In his earlier studies of natural philosophy.Immediately following the first assertion of empirical cer ­tainty cited above,40 he adds the explanation that "Man.Is capable of conversing with angels, • • • for he Is onewith them, being a spirit clothed with a bOdy._4 1 This uni ­versal capability was only potential, having fallen Into
  29. 29. 20disuse, and had become unknown; but In Swedenborg1s case,the theoretical potentiality had been ac~ualized to a uniquedegree. 42 . Swedenborg1s reterences to his spiritual experiences,to data derived trom them, and to evidence tor the validityot the data, run to hundreds ot citations. Nevertheless,he had comparatively little to say aboat the underlying~--the actualized possibility ot such a ~d.ot knowing.He devoted no explicit discussion to its tundamental roleIn his system; he gives It no name to distinguish It tromthe common conception ot experiential knowing. For brevityand convenience in this paper, I have coined the tera -em ­pirical revelation- to denote this distinctive idea otSwe~enborgls; but some care must be taken to specity andlimit the meaning intended by the coinage. Swedenborglsclaim was that his psychie experiences were revelatory, andthat the revelation he was commissioned to transmit to was received In and through these experiences. Thus,both terms ot the coinage are Intended to be descriptive otSwedenborg1s Idea, and the claim entailed by It. No attemptIs made to pre-Judge either part of the question (I.e.,whether he did In tact receive a revelation, or--It he did-­whether or not It constituted empirical knowledge), byechoing Swedenborg1s claim In the term, -empirical revelatlon-- ­even though it is used trom here on without quotation mark.or annotation. The lAtention to use the term In a non-prejudicial
  30. 30. 21sense should not, however, obscure the full extent of theel aim. It was not Just that S"!edenborg had "experienced­revelation (a sense in which all revelation must necessarilybe called empirical); the point vas that Swedenborg claimedto have received revelation, not through visions or voicesfor which he vas a mere amanuensis, but in and through psychicexperiences--experiences which he recorded, but also inter­preted, an~ whose data he regarded as methodologically com­patible With all empirical data, and of equal truth valuewith the data of sense perceptions. In his methodology--both theory and practice--it ischaracteristic of this idea, that no distinction is madebetween physical and psychic experience or perception. Theparallel between the treatment of physical and psychicexperience is quite complete. Physical experience is commonlycited without recourse to the idea of experience; physicalexperience contains its own evidence of having occurred;its data is compared with other data for evidence of valid­ity; the possibility of physical experience must be accountedfor in an adequate psychological theory. We have Just seenhoW Swedenborg viewed spiritual experience in Just the sameway on all four points. Empirical revelation was posited asbeing epistemologically equivalent, and systematically com­patible, with all empirical perceptions. Out of the complete theological system whose basisincluded these epistemological presuppositions, the concept
  31. 31. 22 most frequently commented upon as an example of the consequences of the idea of empirical revelation,43 probably was the concept of ·correspondence· b~tween spiritual and natural realities. Swedenborg had speculated on it in his earlier philosophicafworks,44 but he adopted it as a basic principle after his psychic .experiences had fully confirmed it, and given it detailed substance. Fundamentally, it was a corol~ary to his ontological theory. There is a perfect union of things spiritual and natural with man • • • [and similarly with} each and everything in the world; there is the spiritual, which is the inmost of the cause, and there is the natural, which is its effect, and these two make one; and the spiritual does not appear in the natural, because it is in it as the soul is in the bod3/:, and as the inmost of the cause is in the effect.~> 1 But the idea of correspondence had important epistemological. implications as well, particularly in biblical interpretation, because: It is similar with the Word; that this in its bosom is spiritual, because it is Divine, can be denied by no one; but as the spiritual does not appear in the sense of the letter, which is natural, therefore the spiritual sense has been hitherto unknown; nor could it have been known beforegenu!ne truths,yere revealed by the Lord, for that sense is in these.4b Although Swedenborg appreciated the boldness of his claim to be a revelator, and realized that many would doubt the possibility of sensible contact with spirits--and doubt the possibility of the existence of spiritual beings, or ot
  32. 32. 23a life after death--it may be that he was unable to appreciatefully the revolutionary nature of the idea of empirical revela ­tion itself. Rant realized it, and his question was a basicone: 5011 er [der Philosoph] nur eine einzige dieser Erzahlungen [des. Geistererscheinungen] als wahrscbein ­ lich einraumen1 Wie wichtig ware ein solches Gestand ­ niss, und in welche erstaunliche Folgen sieht man binaus, wenn auch eine solcpe Begebenheit als bewiesen vorausgestzt werden k8nntel47Whether serious or supercilious (the possibility that it mayhave been both will be considered later), the question reflectsthe anxiety that would be raised by serious consideration otSwedenborgs idea. A similar anxiety had been recurring invarious quarters of philosophy all through the modern period:it characterized the reaction to the idea ot the movementof the earth, attraction at a distance, and other shocks otthe new science. Galileo, who did not share the anxiety,expressed it sympathetically, in terms not unlike Kants: This is a bald denial of manifest sense; and it the senses ought not to be believed, by ~hat other portal shall we enter into philosophizing74~John Donne, who did share it, expressed it more desperately:-Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone.- 49 The fact thatSwedenborgs idea did not stir such violent and widespreadreactlons--that in many cases, it was dismissed withoutserious consideration--may obscure the radical challenge
  33. 33. 24It presented to systematic thought. Its potential Impact ~--Is fully appropriate to comp~rlson with the CopernicanRevolullin, t:or--.-the .. assumpt_lo_~ that psychic .!!!d physlc_al datacould be SQDside-ped.. ··tE) If taken seriously, wouldhave threatened the philosophy of being. of knowledge. andof God. with the same kind of anxiety. Swedenborg did not feel the anxiety. an~ he did notspeak to It directly. The Idea of empirical revelation vasself-certifying to him. and lts Impllcatlons f.ltted e,sllyInto the system he had already begun to develop. He apparentlyfelt no need to Justify It--except pragmatically. by using It.His readers were troubled by It. however. The ways In which-they managed to accept It or reject It were various; but In -each case. the- reaction vas Inextricably bound up with the~arch for an ~~tlve to ~Is-;:-~fo:n~n SWede~rgsIdea of empirical revelation a basis fer a satisfactory alter­native to Deism; who could not accept it. found InIt a suggestion which they developed Into an anti-deist posi­tion; ~~found their direction for a revolt againstDeism In the arguments which they marshalled to rejectSwedenborg1s idea. Plan of the StUdy Taking the foregoing ~eflnltlons of the Revolt a alnst~Jsm. and of SvedenborgtB Idea of empl2:lcal revelation. asthe movement and the Idea which form he two poles of this study,
  34. 34. now begln~ In Part I ~ with an Issue which l£ll centra) tQ.. the ~evo1t against Deism, and In which Sweden­ borgs Idea became Involved In the thought of the participants In the Revolt. Each of these first three chaptersl follows a ( slmllar outllne{1 after an Introduct0.TY dellneatlon ~he Issue, attention Is focused on ~the men and the .xts that tlrst 4. __ _ _ r, ralsed~he Issue In connection with Swedenborgs Idea •. Treat­ ----... m~slvary slightly according to situation: more personal background Is given fo~r-relatlvely obscure tlgures than tor ~ us ones; and{the exegeses of the-texts are more or less de~ed, depending on a Judgment of their relative~l­ - cance In this particular study. JI Occasional comparhons, . and observations on Influence, as well as chapter Introduc­ tions and summaries, are Intended to contrlbute((to the con­ tlnult which underlies the sequence of studles~of ~~~al men and works. In this way, Part I attempts to describe t~e basic Issues which arose from the Interaction of Swedenborgs Idea and the~evolt a~S~DeI~ Because each chapter deals with one Issue, no geographical or chronologlcalJunlty • Is Intended; the fact that Ch~ter One (on the philosophical --~--~ Issue) deals with Germans of the 1760s and 70s, and C~pter Two (on the ecclesiastical Issue) deals with Engll~h­ )J ------ men of the 1770s snd 80s, Is a coincidence for Which an explanation Is suggested In the Conclusion. The diversity
  35. 35. 26 of subjects in Chapter Three (on the psychological issue) - approximates what might-have been expected from the topical arrangement. Part 11 trac~~e d~elopment of the Issues described in Part I. and abandons the topical arrangement in favor or - a geographical one: English. -French and German developments. deal in turn with the three chapters ----:-- Thoughoccurring betweenL the turn of the ce~ury and 1840./ the cut-off point Is arbitrary to a degree. It allows the tracing of forty years of nineteenth century developments of issu~s which arosein forty years of the eighteenth century. and Is late --_-..-- .. _- enough to show the direction ­ of development which did In . fact continue for some time In all three countries. Though the chapters of Part 11 also consist mainly of a series or stud!es of Individual men and texts. more frequent oppor­ tunities f9r comp-arisons and Influence-tracing make the -­ continuity more evident.
  36. 36. 27 NOTES - INTRODtX:TION 2Rlchard S. Westrall, Science and Religion InSeve1-)teenth Century England (New Haven: 1958): see esp., p. 219. I )De Verltate w~s first published In Paris In 1624,with a French translation appearing In 1639; It has neverbeen translated Into english.. 11Y~ 6 •• and others classify Rousseau and Voltaireamong SLechler, Ope clt., pp. 446-7. 6.!£!2., p. 2)0. 71bld ., p. 448. Lechler points out a significantevidence or--the relation or Deism to German Rationalism:Tlndal was translated by a well-known Wolffian, J. L. ~chmldt,and the project was begun in 1740, the year of Rationalismsresurge~, marked b~ Wolffs return to Halle. J L:!ra Prog.21.tJ OCPth PIycholo.9Y and ~(ldern r-1an (New york: 1959 ; see esp., hap. 47 ) - ----. 9RA, I, 19.
  37. 37. 28 10 Prin., v. 1, p. xiv; OOA, I, 10-12; Il, 217. as the Creation:orVo • 12 Infin., tr.Wi1kinson, pp. 5-6. £2., Tinda1, Ope eit.,p. 13· 13 lCR , 508 14Tinda1, Ope elt., p. 13. 15 Ibld ., p. 21 16DP , 25~. 17Doe. Lite, 1. 18 Tlnda1, Ope eit., p. 28. 19 Ibid., p. 114. 20~, 3703. 21 lCR , 58. 2~Tinda1~ Ope eit., pp. 15, 46. ~, 403. 24Ibid ., 403-05. 25Tlndal, Ope eit., p. 19. 26 Ibid ., p. 46. 27s edenborg, Letter to Hartley, 1769 tin R. L. Tarel,Documents concerning tne-~e and Character of Emanue1Swed~nborg-;-2 vols., lio";-as-:f"(l:oruron: Swe-<Iiill5org socr.ty,1875-7)], p. 6.
  38. 38. 2930Ad ., Ill, 7167 (WE, 7006) •.31~, 86942.32 HH, 1. 68.34 TCR , 851.3SE. g., AC, 3008.36 TCR, 229-30.37£9" ibid., 10.38£.g., DP, 211.39£.g., TCR, 8.40~ove, note 33.41Sw~denborg, AC, 69. £E. De Anlma, 473-75.42Above , n.n., 27, 29.43See below, pp. 63-64, 82-83, 126-127.44see esp., Swedenborg, ORA, Chapt. VIII.45Swedenborg, ~, 1.46 Loc • clt.
  39. 39. 30 47Emanuel Kant, Trgume eines Geistersehers, erl!utertdurch Traume der Metaphyslk (KBnIgsberg: 1766), In Kants~sawne1te Schriften, hgb v. der KOniglich Preussischen ademle der WIssenschaften, vol. 4 (Berlin: Georg Reimer,1902), p. ,318. 48Galileo Galilei, Dialogue Concerning the Two ChietWorld Systems, tr. Stillman Drake (Los Angeles: Unlverlstyof CallfornIa Press, 19$3), p. 171. 49 John Donne, -The Anatomy of the World,· in Worksin Six Volumes (London: John W. Parker, 18,39), vol. 6~91.
  41. 41. CHAPTER I EMPIRICAL REVELATION AND mE BASIC PRESUPPC6ITIONS OF RELIGIOUS THWaHT After the beginning ot his psychic experiences in1744-45. Emanuel Swedenborg wrote as a theologian. but theInitial German reaction vas concerned primarily with thephilosophical Impllc~tions ot his thought. This account.tor the tocus on his Idea ot empirical revelation. ratherthan on the use ot the Idea In his theological system; andthis particular tocus. in turn. helps to distinguish thesecomments trom those ot English. and ot some later Germanwriters. The English, on the whole. tocused on the ec~o~logical implications ot ~s theology.l while later Germansconcentrated on his theolog; itselt. 2 or on the psychologicalImplications ot Its existence as a rational system;) but hi.tlrst German commentators--notably, Kant and Oetinger--dealtalmost entirely with the ontological and epistemologicalissue •• Relevant Factors In the German Intellectual Climate, c. 1760: !JTeITSllI. and HISTorical Criticism In addition to the Indigenous Rationalism ot Leibnitzand Woltt. and the imported English neoism,4 which togetherproduced German Deism. two other intellectual trends must be
  42. 42. 33noted. One vas the declining tradition of Pietism. and theother vas the emerging tradition of historical crltlcls.of the Bible. PleUsa Though It had an analog In English Evangelicalism,vhlch viiI be discussed later. Pietism vas uniquely andcharacteristically German In origin and development. InIU­ated by Jacob Spener In 1675. as a revolt In reaction to themoral and emotional sterJllty of Protestant Scholasticism,It had roots--through the Influence of Johannes Arndt--Inthe German mystical tradition embodied In Eckhart, Tauler,Schvenkfeld, and especially Jacob Boehme. Though It vasmore a pattern of religious attitudes and practices thana system of theological concepts. Pietism had great Influenceon German religious thought, especially as It vas developedIn the universities (notably Frankfort. TBblngen, LeJpzlgand Halle>.5 In the Duchy of WUrttenberg. vhere Johann AlbrechtBengel1s Influence at TUblngen fostered an Interest In com­bining the mystical elements of Pietism vlth natural philo­sophy and dfscfplfned relfglous thought. the clfraate vasparticularly conducive to eclecticism an attitude vhlch~tlnger adopted In his search for a more holistic alternativeto del.tlc dualism. It was this eclp.ctlc Inclination vhichled ~tlnger to JoIn Svedenborg1s pre-mystlcal philosophy with
  43. 43. the Kabbala and Boehmels mysticism,6 and which prompted his first reaction to Swedenborgls Arcana Coelestia: Wander sind darin, erstaunlich unerhSrte, wichtige Dinge • • • • M1ch irrt nichts, 1ch kann alles combinier­ en, ich bin kein Theologe von einem einzigen Leist.7 In KSnigsberg, where the pietist tradition was led by Franz Albert Schultz until well Into Kantls lifetime, the consequences were quite different. While Pietism was an authentic way of life tor Schultz, It became a pattern or hypocritically-observed devotions enforced upon tha" pupil. In his school; with the result that some of them, notablyKant, came to see Pietism as wholly empty and hypocritical.His school experience having produced a bad Impression orPletlsm--and Schultz and his successor, Knutzen, closely identified with Wolffian Rationalism8--it is plain that"Kantls early association with Schultz and later association"with Knutzen contributes to the explanation of Kants revoltagainst what pious religion remained in Deism. It alsoexplains--in part--hls grouping the mystical religion thatassociated with Pietism, and the metaphysical speculationsthat he associated with Rationalism, as ·zwei Fliegen, dieer mit einer Klappe schlagen k8nnte.· 9 These two results Df Pietistic influence are impor­tant t~ the background of Kant an~ Qetinger. They serve, too,to illustrate again the complexity of the relations betweenmovementa and ideas. It Is a complex relatlonhip in Which
  44. 44. 35it is possible that one movement--specifically definable.compact in its traditions, and less than a century old-­could produce two consequences as disparate as these. Historical Criticism: J. A. Ernesti Besides Deism itself, and its older opponent. Pietism,there vas another element in turn-of-the-century German religi­ous thought that influenced the initial reception of Sweden­borg1s work. This was historical criticism of the Bible. Itis true that Deism produced a school of ~istorical criticism.too; its groundwork had already been laid in the works otthe English Deists. and its earliest example already existedin manuscript; 10 and for a time in the nineteenth century.especially with such figures as Bauer and Strauss, histori ­cal criticism vas an essentially deistic enterprise. Atthis period, however, the first published attempts at scienti ­fic historical criticism of the Bible were intended as anti­deist defenses of traditional Protestant biblical interpreta ­tion. Protestant Scholasticism had been undercut in itshermeneutics. first by pietist attacks from within, and thenby deist attacks from without; Protestantism needed a new,and rationally defensible, system of exegesis to restore itto respectability. The attempt to provide this throughobjectively historical interpretation of the text itselt(avoiding traditional dogmatic assertions). was begun more orless simultaneously by Johann Salomo Semler. and Johann August
  45. 45. ErnestI. The latters InstItutIo InterpretatIs NovI TestamentI(LeIpzIg: 1765) Is often cIted as the foundatIon of modernexegetIcal scIence, 11 and hIs revIew of Swedenborgs ArcanaCoelestIa In 1760 was probably the fIrst scholarly review ofthe work,12 and vas cIted by Kant. ErnestI began his scholarly career as a classicalphIlologIst, and Is wIdely credIted wIth havIng done out­standIng, scIentIfIcally hIstorIcal work in this field.When he moved from hIs chaIr as professor of eloquence atLeIpzIg, to the theologIcal faculty of the same unIversity(In 1759), he began applyIng the methods of classIcal philo­logy to bIblIcal InterpretatIon. HIs lectures on this ap­proach to bIblIcal studIes were later developed Into hisInstItutIo ot 1765, as he explaIns In hIs Introduction. Sincethe vIewpoInt set forth In that work had been used and developedsInce 1759, It vas characteristic of ErnestI at the time bereviewed Swedenborg in 1760. The new line of defense Which thIs vIewpoInt providedagainst attacks on the authorIty of ScrIpture vas based.qulte dIrectly on his background as a classIcist. He vastroubled by the tact that since the beginnIng ot hIs century,the deIstlc notion that the Bible was no more than ancientliterature had opened a fIeld day for antIbIblical dogmaticsmasked as lIterary crIticism. Such attacks were based onInadequate scholarshIp, he was sure, 13 but defenses ot theBlble--wh~ther by Jews, the early Fathers, the Scholastics
  46. 46. 37or the Pletlsts--were on equally shaky philological grounds. 14The trouble, as he saw It, vas that words of Scripture canmean anything that an Interpreter chooses to make them mean,unless there Is some necessity for their meaning ~ thing;and that necessity can be provided only In the framework or aphllologlcally sound principle of Interpretatlon. IS Hethought that such a hermeneutical system could be based onone solid, consistently observed principle: Though this connexlon [between words and assigned meanings] was In Its commencement and Institution arbitrary, yet, being once established by custom, It has become necessary. Not that one word has, or can have only one meaning; for the fact Is manifestly otherwise; but that we are not permitted to give what sense we please to a word, either In writing or Interpreting; nor, at the same time and place, nor In the same. style of speaking, can the sense be various. 16 On these considerations rests all the certainty which can exist In Interpretatlon. 17 Any exegesis based without deviation on this ·oneword, one meaning- precept would be safe from rationalistaccusations of superstftlon, arbitrary allegorizing, ordogmatizing. Coupled with a recognition of the. directInspiration of Scripture by God (a principle which he assumedas axiomatic without defense,18 without being conscious orhis Inconsistency with his own strictly historical method ­ology19>, It was to provide fulJ Justification of biblicalauthority. Shortly after Joining the theol~glcal faculty, hebegan to publish a monthly journal of reviews or books or
  47. 47. 38religious Interest. Early In this enterprlz~, he cameacross several of Swedenborg1s minor works--probably Includ-.Ing The White Horse, New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine,and The Last Judgment, all of which were published In LondonIn 1758--deallng with various passages of the book of Revelation.Apparently he read these because they concerned his speclalty,New Testament studies, but he did not review them. However,because -fast auf alIen Selten,- these works referred to theArcana Coelestla, he purchased this work--notlng its highcost, as Kant vas to do later, as an excuse for reviewingit--and pUblished a review in the sixth issue of the firstvolume of his Journal. The Arcana is ostensibly (and, in fact, centrally)an exegetical dissertation. Ernestl vas primarily a biblicalscholar, so it is not surprising that he turned his attentionfirst to Swedenborg1s hermeneutics. -Es 1st ein allegorischerund mystlscher Commentarlus,- he began. 20 In the light orhis own interpretive principles, there vas not much worse- ­or much more--to be said of an exegesis, so he virtuallycontented himself with that comment. For another five pages,he quotes and paraphrases Swedenborg, accurately, represen ­tatively, and without comment; then he moves for prIma faciedismissal of the whole hermeneutical system, method andcontent.:
  48. 48. 39 Wlr schonen Zelt und Papler velter fortzufahren: und dleses venlge vlrd hlnlangllch seyn, zu sehen, vie der Verfasser erklart, und vie er slch die Concordanz dabey zu Nutze gemacht hat.21 But he vas not through vlth the Arcana. Svedenborg1saccounts of spiritual experiences vere still to be dealt vlth,and he had somevhat more to say about them. Again, he seemedto feel that Svedenborg vas his oYn vorst vltness, for hedevoted most of his space to quotations and paraphrases thatmust be Judged as generally faithful to the text and signifi­cant In the system. This time, hovever, he vas less sparingin his comments, for, as he said in conclusion, • leiderviele Leute anfangen, an solchen Traumen elnen Gefallen zuhaben.· 22 He introduced the accounts of empirical revelationvith a humorous note, vhlch he obviously intended to setthe tone in vhlch the vhole vas to be read. Was er davon sagt, hat er alles in elner EntzUckung gelernt. Die Beschreibung davon ist so vervlrrt und dunkel, dass man sleht, er 1st noch nlcht recht bey slch gevesen, da er sle beschreiben hat. 2 3Where he vas afraid a point might be taken seriously, heInserted a sarcastic reminder. For example: Er hat in selner EntzUcKung mlt elner geredet, velche nlcht geglaubt hatte, das eln Gelst elne ausgedehnte Substanz (eln Extensum) sey, sle hat slch ab~r von Ihm elnes bessern belehren lassen, Ihren Irrthum erkannt, und sich qevundert, dass ale iro Leben so dumm gevesen vare. Die VertheldlQer der auspedehnten Geister k8nnen den Bevels, veichei·so kraftlg ge~esen 1st, und aUI dem Hlmmel Kommt, selblt nachlesen. 2 4
  49. 49. Finally, however, r~dicule gives way to serious Judgment: Diess ein Roman von einer neueren Art sey, welchen ohngefghr mit Klimms unterirdischen Reise zu vergleichen seyn mochte: nur dass die letzte Erdich­ tung unschuldig, Jene aber, das sie die heil. Schrift unter dem vorgebenen innern Slnne, misbraucht und verdrehet, hochstrafbar ist. 2 5Ernestis rejection of Swedenborg Is not surprising. Inone of the passages he cites, Swedenborg says ·of the Wordof the Lord, -each of its words presents In form Its ownidea • • • and in the ideas are things so Innumerable • • •that it can never be believed.-26 Clearly, this Is antitheticalto Ernestis chief principle; and since Swedenborgs wholeidea of an Internal, spiritual sense in Scripture stems origin­ally from his empirical revelations, Ernestis Judgment con­cerning them needs no more than simple consistency on hispart for explanation. Apparently Ernesti wanted to leaveit at that. He apologized for troubling his readers withconsideration of such a ~00k,27 and took care to disassociatehimself from any Interest in mystical ~ecrets: -Vir glelchsonst eben so wenig, als die Herr~ Medici auf die Arcanahalten.- 28 In defense of this claim to indifference regard­Ing the work, It should be noted that he drew none of hisreferences to it from outside the first of the Arcanas eightvolumes, on Which he -etliche und dreisig Thaler wegwant•• - 29Against the claim, however, another circumstance must beconsidered; one Which suggests that at least the first volume
  50. 50. of the work attracted more of his attention than he hoped It would attract In his readers. In his paraphrases otSwedenborgs exegesis and descriptions of the spiritual world,he cited supporting references that Swedenborg gave tromparallel biblical passages. 30 apparently as examples ot ·vleer [Swedenborg] slch die Concordanz dabey zu Nutze gemachthat.· But In at least two cases, which are distinguished In no way from his biblical citations copied trom Swedenborg,he cites similar supporting references that Swedenborg doesnot glve. 31 This would seem to show how Ernestl had madeuse of his awn concordance, and that his own researches IntoSwedenborglan hypotheses had been more thorough than he choseto take overt credit tor. Even If there Is no evidence thathe read all eight volumes, there Is fairly good evIdence thathe read allot the first (his references are veIl scatteredover the first 624 pages). and this hardly amounts to dis­missing the work out-of-hand on the basis of superfIcialobJections, Ernestl dId, Indeed, have grounds more relevant thanthis: and the nature of these grounds Is of some Interest •. Swedenborg was an allegorlzer and a Coc~eJan,32 because .hefound spiritual significance Within, and In addition to, theliteral denotation of bIblical words. Further, he was anEpicurean and a naturallst,33 because he described extendedspiritual substance, and claimed that all angels and spiritsare souls of men who have dIed. 34 In other words, Swedenborgta
  51. 51. position was at once too spiritualistic and too naturalisticto suit Ernesti: ~ spiritualistic in hermeneutics, toonaturalistic in philosophy. It was noted above that Ernestlwanted the Scriptures to be read strictly according to theirdenotative meaning. at the same time assuming completedivine revelation. 35 This inconsistency of Ernesti1s was.more or less the obverse of the inconsistency which he foundin Swedenborg. Furthermore. his .denial of the possibilityof extended substance suggests an unstated presuppositionon Ernestl1s part of a Cartesian (I.e •• rationalist) dualism;and Swedenborg1s holism was totally incompatible with dualisticpresuppositions. Three years later, Ernestl devoted another article toa group of five smaller works that Swedenborg published al­most simultaneously.36 Four of them have frequently beenreprinted together. as his four leading doctrines--concern­ing the Lord. the Sacred Scriptures. Life. and Falth--andone concerned the Last Judgment. Except that the Arcana hadbeen anonymous. and he now knew the "Person und Namen- orthe author. but did not feel at liberty to disclose It,37 hisopinion ~f the Swedenborglan system remains unchanged. Eitherhis knowledge of the author. who had been respected as aphilosopher in Leipzig, 38 or the style of the new works, madehim a little more tolerant. but no less accepting. He foundtwo things. to agree with. but immediately disclaimed each.He liked the Identification of the Lord (-Domino·) as the
  52. 52. 43Messiah, "Aber das alles saget er in einem andern Sinne,als man es sonst saget. n39 Similarly, "Das Dritte StUck,[Doctrine of Life] • • • hat viel Gutes in sich; darinneaber doch nichts neues. n40 Otherwise, he simply paraphrasedas before, repeated his charges that the system was Sabellian,4 1Socinian and naturalistic. 42 His conclusion on the wholewas a curious mixture of pit7 and scorn: Man muss bedauren, das ein sonst gelehrter Mann so welt verfallen konnen und dass er sich und seine Leser mit solchen phantastischen und ihm kostbaren Umschweiren (denner muss dieser BUcher von sein Geld drucken lassen, und er lasst sie alle prachtig drucken) plaget, und nicht sein sabellianisches und naturalistisches System gerade heraussagt, damit er in wenig Bog~n fertig werden konnte, wenn es Ja gedruckt seyn mUsste.4~ While there is no evidence that Ernesti was signirl­cantly influenced either positively or negative~y. bySwedenborg, and Ernestis own part in the Revolt againstDeism was indecisive because of the inconsistence or hishermeneutics, still his attitude toward Swedenborg is Im­portant at this point. He commented on two of Swedenborgscommentators, Oetlnger and Clemm, and his review of Swedenborgwas cited by Kant. Considered in himself, he demonstrates thedifficulty of incorporating Swedenborg into a dualisticontology. Further, he exemplifies to some extent, a patternof anti-deist revolt that was independent or, and incompatiblewith, any Swedenborgian influence or involvement. Finally,he demonstrates the presence of a tendency in German thought
  53. 53. as early as 1760, not only to reject Swedenborg, but toridicule him as well. All three of these demonstrationswill be significant In the discussions of Kant andOetlnger. German Reaction to Swedenborgs Pre-Mystlcal PhIlosophy The fact that the first review of the ArcanaCoelestla came from Lelpzlg--and that several of Swedenborgsminor works came to Ernes~Is attention there shortly aftertheir publlcatlon--may be related to the fact that his earlierworks In the field of natural philosophy had been known andreviewed there. The three volumes of his Opera Phllosophicaet Mlneralla (Including the Prlnclpia Rerum Naturalla, citedelsewhere, and two mineralogical works), as well as hisProdromus de Inflnlto, were published there In 1734. The~ was reviewed favorably in DeutscheActa Erudltorum,a Leipzig Journal;44 seven years later, other LeipzigJournals were reviewing his physiological and psychologicalstudy, Oeconomfa Regnl Anlma 11s.4S What effect these notices had on Swedenborgs reputa­tion in Germany Is Impossible to assess accurately, but thetact that Oetlnger read the Prlnclpla In folio, £. 173S,while he was In TUblngen,46 suggests that the work was knownand circulated. His Impression was favorable then, anddeveloped Into considerable Interest after 1700, as will bediscussed later.
  54. 54. There is no evidence that Swedenborg1s philosophicalwritings were not favorably received. The reviews tendedto be favorable; ~tinger regarded Boehme, Swedenborg andNewton as the greatest cosmologists; and Kant felt no fearof ridicule when he published a cosmology essentiallysimilar to Swedenborgs in his Allgemeine Naturgeschichteund Theorie des Himmels in 1755. Hans Hoppe has noted thesimilarities between Kant and Swedenborg on this point, andhas raised the question of influence,47 but no decisiveevidence is available. Kant gave credit only to a reviewof Wright1s cosmology, and Wright did not mention Swedenborg;Hoppes list of parallels do strain the credibility of •coincidence theory, but only a probable conclusion is pos-sible. For the present purpose, however, it is enough tonote two conclusions that are reasonably apparent. One,which affects the general study of German reactions toSwedenborgs theological writings, is that his philosophicalwritings had not created an anti-Swedenborgian prejudice inGerman philosophical circles--at least none that Kant knewabout; where the works were known at all, they tended tocreate a favorable atmosphere for the reception of his newworks--especially with Qetinger, and possibly to some extentwith Ernesti. 48 The second, which is significant for theanalysis of Kants reaction to Swedenborg, is that whetherthat latters natural philosophy i~fluenced Kant or not, itwas remarkably similar to that of the K8nigsberg thinker.
  55. 55. Since Swedenborg Incorporated his natural philosophy Intohis visionary theological system, the two men had somethingtangible In common at the outset of their decisive encounter.this shared philosophy should not be over-valued, for therewaa no empirical revelation Involved In Swedenborgs workat this stage; but It should not be overlooked, either. Thesignificance of It vUI be discussed below. 49 Immanuel Rant, and His Reaction to Swedenborg It Is unnecessary to establish Rants Importance inany Intellectual history covering his period; all that iarequired Is a definition of the intersection of Rant andthe problem at hand, and perhaps an excuse for attemptingto add even a little that Is new to the great mass ofmeticulous *Kantstudlen* already In existence. Threesecondary quotations should suffice to meet these require­ments in a preliminary way. With regard to the Revolt against Deism, John ~rsummarizes the veIl-known situation: Deism had been very confident of the complete power or the human mind to know God. Herbert of Cherbury had considered such knowledge as Innate. Deists after Locke had considered knowledge of God not as innate, but as readily attainable by the Re~son. By such arguments as the ontological, cosmological and teleological, deists had been snre that men could know God. But from the standpoint of Kant1s the0ry of knowledge, these arguments lo!St t.hefr vaUdlty • • • • Wlt;.h thi~_E:lnt in mind, some have called Kant :!h~ execuZIOner 91 ~lsm.·SO
  56. 56. 47With regard to Swedenborg, Ernst Benz may be cited: In der Tat ist dieses .Verdienst- [the -value- ot having provoked Rant to write the RritiksJ dem Ansehen Swedenborgs in der deutschen Geistesgeschichte Bhel bekommen, denn die ungewohnlich scharten Urteile, in denen Rant den nordischen Seher als aErtzphantasten unter all Phantasten" und sein grosses Werk als _acht Quartb~nde voll Unsinn ft bezeichnet hat, sind an Sweden­ borg seither hangen geblieben und haben seine bisherige Beurteilung durch die zunftigen Vertreter der Philosophie so stark beeinflusst, dass sich niemand diesem Urteil Rants entgegenzustellen gewagt hat und eine kritische Sichtung des philosophischen und theologischen Gesamtwerks Swedenborgs und seiner Auswirkung auf die deutsche Geistesgeschichte unterblieben ist.5lAnd by way of Justification tor tendering a fresh hypothesisregarding Rant, let us turn again to Prot. Benz: Die Auseinandersetzung Rants mit Swedenborg • • • ist zwar bereits verschiedentlich historisch-kritisch untersucht worden, hat aber bisher eine Erklarung des eigentUmlichen Widerspruchs, der zwischen der Stellung ­ nahme Rants zu Swedenborg in den verschiedenen Epochen seiner geistigen Entwicklung besteht, nicht gelietert. 52 The !wo Documents This analysis of Rants reaction to Swedenborgessentially amounts to an exegesis ot two documents-­Rants Brief an Frttulein von Knobloch (presumably writtenin 1763),53 and his Traume eines Geistersehers, erlautertdurch Traume der Metaphysik. 54 To say that the tlrst ofthese documents is favorable to Swedenborg and the secondis unfavorable, is certainly to understate, and probably to
  57. 57. oversimplify the case. The understatement can be correctedfirst, by detailing some of the more important differencesbetween the two documents. 55 1. In the Brief, Kant refers to Swedenborg by hiscorrect name, and with marked respect, calling him -Herrvon Swedenborg-;56 in the Traume, he accorded him no honor-­including the honor of spelling his name correctly--calllnghim RHerr Schwedenberg.- 57 2. In the Brief, he described Swedenborg as a -Gelehr­ter n ;58 in the Traume, as a -gewissen Herrn Schwedenberg ohneAmt und Bedienung.- 59 3. In the Brief, he regarded Swedenborg" as a RvernU­nftlger, gefalliger und offenherziger Mann n ;60 In the Trlume,as an -Erzphantasten unter alIen Phantasten,_61 and the-irgsten SChwarme;s unter allen,n 62 and his work as utterlyVoid of °a single drop of reason. 63 4. In the Brief: he spoke of walting with longingfor Swedenborgs next book;64 in the Traume, he seemed toknow only of Swedenborgs Arcana Coelestia (which was pub­lIshed 1747-1758, so It could not have been that -nextbookn In 1763), and consIdered that work to be -achtQuartbande voll Unslnn.- 65 5. In the BrIet, Swedenborg appeared as a remarkableman whom Kant wIshed very much to meet and converse With;66In the Traume, as a generally unknown character who had
  58. 58. foisted upon the world a vast and ridiculOUS book calledArcana Coelestia. 67 6. In the Brief, Rant seemed to accept the opinionof his English frlend,68 and the most respectable people InStockholm,69 that Swedenborg was learned, reasonable, politeand open-hearted, and that the stories about him were true;In the Tr~ume, he said that all of Swedenborg1s acquaintances,as well as his works, testified to his being the wErzphantastenunter alIen Phantasten. w70 7. In the Brief, Kants tone Is serious and respect­ful; in the Tr~ume, it is derisive, insulting, and--althoughmasterfull wltty--bordering on what a modern reader (at -------------least) might consider vulgar. 71 8. In the Brief, Kent apologized for not being ableto say more on the matter;72 In the Tr~ume, he apologizedfor saying so much73_-and, in~~e~r bringing up the matter)at all. 74 9. In the Brief, Rant clearly took seriously, andapparently ac~epted the truth of, three anecdotes whichillustrated--and supposedly confirmed--Swedenborgs psychicabilities; he recorded the precise details of his investi­gation of them,75 and Indicated his own desire to examinethem further. 76 In the Tr~ume, he said he had found outwnlchts· about them, 77 ad~ised someone else to take thetrouble to disprove them,78 and dismissed them as wMlrchen• • • die ein VernUnftiger Bedenken trlgt mit Qeduld anzu­h8ren.· 79
  59. 59. 50 If these comparisons fairly state the obvious dif­ferences between the ~ and the Traume, two furtherconsiderations may raise questions about the basic signifi_cance of those differences. The first concerns the threestories Just mentioned in point 9: the second concerns theimplications of the two styles referred to in point 7. The Three Anecdotes (capitalized, this title willrefer throughout this paper to these three stories whichKant madel ca~se~ c~l~bres) probably were essentially faith­ful records of actual events. The first one, "The QueensSecret"--in which Swedenborg reportedly told the Queen ofSweden in 1162 a secret which he could not have learned ex­cept through communication with her dead brother--wasendorsed in substantially similar detail by twenty sourcesbesides those cited by Kant. "The Lost Receipt"--Which toldhow Swedenborg helped a widow find an important receipt in1161, by learning from her late husband of a secret compart_ment in which it was kept_-had eight such endorsements."The Stockholm Fire"--the story in which Swedenborg des_cribed to a crowded party in Gottenburg precise details ota fire in Stockholm, which was burning at the same time hewas reporting it__had five corroborating testimonies. 80Although all of these testimonies were second hand, onlythree contrary evidences have been produced; and these werenotably leas reliable than the affirmative testimony. In
  60. 60. $1spite of this presumptive probability, however, no "hard ­evidence has ever been produced that could positively proveor disprove any of the stories. The significance of thiswill be discussed presently. Neither the Three Anecdotes, nor any of the compar ­able stories that have been circulated, were started bySwedenborg, or considered important by him. Bl To Rant,however, they represented Swedenborgs credentials--which,if authentic, would entitle him to a serious hearing.~Furthermore, he saw them as a challenge to basic presuppositionsof rational thought: if they could be indisputably authentkated- ­ which is to say, if Swedenborg should be taken seriously--theconsequences would be astonishing. B3 From this perspective,Rants most important question concerning Swedenborg vas,were the Three Anecdotes true? Apparently, he answered thequestion affirmatively in the Brief, negatively in the Trlume. Rants Ambiguity Consideration of this appearance introduces anotherissue, however--the implications of Rants style. Behindthe polite affirmation of the ~, and the d~~e negLtionof the Trlume, there is an ambiguity which suggests the possi ­bility that Rants ayes· and Rants "no" to Swedenborgsclaim ~mpirical ~latlon ~€re equally and fundamentallyambiguous.