Scientific discovery of Spiritual Laws given in Rational Scientific Revelations

Swedenborg on Aristotle

These are quotations from Swedenborg's Writings where Aristotle or Aristotelians are mentioned.

Spiritual Experiences


There was perceived a sonorous something moving my skin, thus a moving sound, proceeding from the posterior region through the left side even to the left ear, which something would fain struggle forth and labored so to do. I perceived that they were spirits, but of what quality they were I could not know; but when they ascended with an effort to the ear, they spoke with me saying that they were logicians and metaphysicians and such as had immersed their thoughts in such things, and lamenting that they now lived a miserable obscure life, without perception. Their speech was dull, slow, and rough-sounding.

3948. There were moreover two who discoursed with me above the head, and it was said and perceived that it was Aristotle and another, whom it was not given to know. He spoke with sufficient clearness, as a spirit who had been some time in the spiritual world. I spoke now with him, and now with those who were at the left ear and concerning such subjects (as are mentioned above). It thence first appeared that Aristotle was not of such a quality as his followers, who reasoned philosophically from his books, but that he was (altogether) of a different genius.

3949. Aristotle was then remitted into the state which be had then be first came into the world of spirits, but, what I wondered at, he applied himself to the right ear, and not to the left, and there spoke hoarsely (indeed), but soundly. I clearly perceived that he was altogether different from his followers, viz. in that he had developed from his own thought the things he had written, so that his philosophy had originated from (a ground of) thought which he clearly set forth, in such a way that his terms were only words by which he represented his scrutinized thoughts, and thus proceeded from thoughts to terms, which were thence called scholastic and by which his philosophy (is distinguished). I then perceived also that he was prompted by a delight of affection which was predominant, and excited him to thought, so that it was his (genius) that he thought from affection, and thence under the impulse of delight and thus he described his (very) thoughts; wherefore he (applied himself) to the right ear. But his followers (proceeded) not from thought to terms, but from terms scientifically made, thus from mere (learned) dust (as it were) to thought, which is an inverted way, and thus from darkness and deadness to the light of thought, in which case they do not find light but darkness, nor (do they find) thought but a certain something lumpish and confused. Hence (they would proceed) to delight which cannot be given unless from a certain affection, which is not (with them) an affection and thence a delight of thinking, but an external cupidity, as of personal honor, and, more grossly still, (it is engaged in) from a regard to superior dignities, (to be attained) by different methods; and also with a view to gain; all which weigh not at all with those who are excited to think from affection and thence delight, and (accordingly) they form and put forth such (fruits of their study). This was the reason why Aristotle was at the right, (while) the rest were at the left.

3950. I spoke with Aristotle when above the head, (observing) that a child could, in the space of half a" hour, speak so philosophically, analytically, and logically, that Aristotle (himself) would be unable, in many volumes, to describe all the recondite philosophy, analysis, and logic (embodied in it), and yet the child knows nothing of it. In like manner the dancer may ply his arts, moving at the same time each of his limbs artificially, yet as if naturally, and applying (the necessary) respirations to each (movement), which, if they should all be explored to their source, and their mode of operation be discovered, by investigating the action of the concurrent fibers flowing from the two brains, of the motive fibers. of the muscles, of the diaphragm, of the pulmonary respiration, and of the various application of these and the other viscera, whole volumes would be required for the description, yet he knows how to dance without knowing anything of these matters. So it is with the philosophy of these things, which is of no use, except for the sake of delight. Aristotle greatly approved of this, and said that it was so, and said that it was (otherwise) as useless and futile as the dust of the earth, which was to be wholly cast away, because such (a mode of philosophising) merely throws a heap of rubbish before the eyes, and blinds them, in case that men proceed in such an inverted order, and would fain think from an artificial method, when (yet) thought extends itself to such artificials, which seem (to proceed) from thought, instead of thoughts (proceeding) from them. These are the sentiments of Aristotle; he added, if any one wishes to be infatuated, let him proceed in this manner.

3952. A woman appeared to me and extended her hand, as if to stroke my cheek, and. when I wondered what could be meant thereby, it was said that such a woman, having a beautiful hand sometimes appeared to him (during his life) when his eyes were closed, who would stroke his cheek; and speaking with the angels respecting her, they said that such were those who were called Pallases--not Minervas, but Pallases--and that they were spirits of that and of more ancient times, who, as spirits, were delighted with ideas, and indulged in thoughts, as is well known in respect to the Stoics and others; for formerly they could think much better without philosophy (than with it), so that they in a certain way mingled with spirits. Such spirits were delighted with Aristotle from his thinking justly, wherefore there was sometimes represented to him such a woman stroking his cheek. The woman was a representation (effected) by male spirits who were about him and had possession of him as a subject, so that the woman was not a spirit, but the representation of a woman, as I myself just before experienced.

3954. What kind of idea he had of the soul or spirit, which he called pneuma, was shown to the life, for he became (himself) what he had conceived (the soul to be), to wit, something scarcely visible, but yet something of an etherial nature, with a kind of general undulation or self-motion. Such was the idea that he had of the spirit, saying, that he knew his spirit would survive after death, because it was his interior essence, which could not die, as it possessed the power of thought; at the same time (he said) that he could not then entertain the same idea (on the subject) which he now had, but only that the general nature of thought was that of a certain breath which he breathed with a peculiar kind of motion. As to the quality of his life, he says that he did not make it a subject of distinct thought. This is what was said by Aristotle.

3955. Moreover, Aristotle is among the sane spirits, while his followers are among the infatuated.


It was said to Aristotle that there are antipodes and that (the inhabitants of all parts of the earth) become such after (the lapse of) twelve hours. When the fact was shown, he as well as others wondered that they could thus walk on their feet; but the cause was made known, (viz.) that since the minutest portions of the ether gravitate to the minutest points of our body, towards the center, (the gravitation) is upwards when the center is upwards, and so downwards when the center is downwards, and thus an upwards and downwards is induced upon the whole body, which the ideas are to follow. The subject in this way came into the light, and he said it was so. Hence also it appeared that when reasonings are instituted from a gross atmosphere, from stones and the like, (and) from the external body, no one can possibly conceive that he should be able to stand on his feet in the opposite (quarter) of the earth; but as soon as those grossnesses are removed, or the ideas of them, which are similarly gross, then the man comes into a certain natural light. -1748, November 12.

3960. It was also said to Aristotle that such was at this day the erudition of those, especially the schoolmen, who call themselves Aristotelians, that they could fill an entire page with their writing and express things by mere scholastic terms, such as transubtantiality, predicaments, entities, and the like, (drawn) from their terminology, and when the page thus written is read, it can scarcely be understood either by themselves or others, and yet they will have it that it means something (important), and they deem this learned and most learned, when yet these things are of such a nature that when a man of sense considers their import he rejects (them as mere) scholastic terms, and can in two lines so clearly explain the same thing that any one, however unlearned, can understand what is meant, while the learned, by their scholastic diction, can scarcely perceive little if any meaning at all. -1748, November 12.

3961. Aristotle appeared, his face being somewhat obscure, but his head-covering being visible, which was large and of a brownish red. It was wrapped in ample folds, about his head, not unlike (the turban) of the Turks, but not in just such folds, and also somewhat fuller. He was (enveloped) in a long cloak, almost in the fashion of the Turks. -1748, November 12.

4446. Aristotle formed his philosophical system in the natural order, that is to say, from the analysis of his own thought and the like in himself, which he so described. Thus he had first an idea of his own thought, and thence formed a philosophical system in his own manner, that he might describe, and, as it were, paint it to others; but his followers proceed in inverse order, viz. , from such scholastical things as they call logic, and metaphysics, and philosophy in general, onward to the acquisition of ideas concerning thought. But inasmuch as this is inverted order, they are always casting themselves into stupidity or darkness concerning interior things, while Aristotle himself advanced into light. To seek for ideas concerning the interiors of the mind from terms and such things is to plunge into utter darkness. Hence it is that most men believe nothing concerning internal things, and the learned less than the unlearned.

5630. After these things were said, I was conducted, along with certain Englishmen, to Italians who have been exceedingly crafty, and such inwardly, and who have burned with such crimes in their life. When I came to a distance (from them), I immediately perceived (in them) contempt for us who were coming and a great notion of themselves, as if they would possess heaven and earth. We approached nearer; and, then, I spoke with them I asked, at first, something about the Lord: they said that they have all His power, inasmuch as it was given them through Peter. But I asked what they thought about God the Father; whether they have His power, also. They said that they have not, but only that of the Lord as regards the Human. We asked, in reply, how they understand this, that the Lord yet declares Himself to be one with the Father; that the Father is in Him and He in the Father; and that His Divine and Human is one like the soul and body, and, that because this is so, they cannot be divided; and (pointed out) that they do not so perceive the matter unless they say that they have Divine power, and also that of the Father Himself. At this, they, at first, held their peace, and consulted together: afterwards, they said that they have not heard such a thing before, and that they cannot reply to it until after they have consulted among themselves. They still wished to say something; but we answered that the speaking native to man is through the speech of ideas such as belongs to the wise in the other life, and not through a speech of terms; but, that, if they want to hunt up terms from the school-men and from Aristotle, this is ridiculous, and is never admitted by any intelligent man, because, in this way, the greatest falses may be confirmed. Then, after they consulted further, they sent to me a certain one who had been an Inquisitor among them; but, when he approached, he said that he is not of that religion but of another, and, moreover, that he did not dare (to say anything) there. Wherefore, they wished to resort to their arts and deceits, and said that they would reply in another way. But I said that this avails nothing, because we speak from Divine Truth; and that they know that he who attacks Divine Truth assails the Divine itself: also, that nobody ventured anything against Divine Truth in the other life.

True Christian Religion

TCR 692. At this point I will add some accounts of experiences, of which this is the first.

When I was going home from the school of wisdom, I saw on the way an angel dressed in blue. He came and walked beside me, and said: 'I see you have come away from the school of wisdom, and that you took great pleasure in what you heard there. But I perceive that you are not fully in our world, because you are at the same time in the natural world, so you do not know about our Olympic contests. At these the wise men of antiquity meet, and learn from newcomers from your world what changes of state and what vicissitudes wisdom has so far undergone and is still undergoing. If you like, I will take you to the place where many of the wise men of antiquity live together with their sons, that is, their disciples.'

So he took me to a place on the border between the north and the east, and when I had a view in that direction from a piece of high ground, I caught sight of a city with two hills at one side, the one nearer the city being the lower of the two. 'This city,' he told me, 'is called Athenaeum, the lower hill is called Parnassium, the higher Heliconeum. They bear these names because in the city and its neighbourhood the wise men of ancient Greece live, men such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Aristippus and Xenophon, with their disciples and recruits.'

I asked about Plato and Aristotle. He told me that they and their followers were in a different region, because they had taught rational arguments concerned with the understanding, but the people here had taught about moral issues which relate to life.

[2] He said that scholars from the city of Athenaeum were frequently sent on embassies to the educated Christians, to report what are their present thoughts about God, the creation of the universe, the immortality of the soul, the condition of man relative to that of animals and other subjects apposite to interior wisdom. He told me that the crier had announced a meeting for that day, a sign that their emissaries had met some newcomers from the earth and heard some interesting news. We saw a lot of people coming out of the city and its neighbourhood, some of them with laurel-wreaths on their heads, some holding palm-fronds in their hands, some with books under their arms, and some with pens tucked under the hair of the left temple.

[3] We joined them and went up together, and found on the hill an octagonal palace, which they called the Palladium. When we went in we found eight hexagonal recesses, in each of which was a bookcase, as well as a table at which those who wore laurels sat down. In the Palladium itself we saw seats carved out of stone, on which the remainder seated themselves.

Then a door on the left was opened and by it two newcomers from the earth were brought in. When they had been welcomed, one of those wearing laurels asked them, 'What news is there from earth?'

'The news,' they said, 'is that men have been found in forests resembling animals, or animals resembling men. They recognised from their faces and bodies that they had been born men, but that at the age of two or three they had been lost or abandoned in the forests. They said that these creatures could not voice any of their thoughts, nor learn how to make articulate sounds so as to utter words. Neither did they know what food was fit for them, as animals do, but they put in their mouths what grew in the forest whether clean or dirty; and much more of the same kind. From these facts some of our learned men made many guesses and some made many deductions about the condition of men relative to that of animals.

[4] On hearing this some of the wise men of antiquity asked, 'What were their guesses and deductions from these facts?' The newcomers replied that there was a great deal, but it could be reduced to the following:

1. Man by his nature and also from birth is more stupid and so more vile than any animal, and if not taught becomes like one.

2. He can be taught because he has learnt to make articulate sounds, and so to talk; and by this means he has begun to express his thoughts; and by degrees he has done so more and more, until he could put together the laws of living together, many of which, however, have been stamped upon animals from birth.

3. Animals equally with men are capable of reasoning.

4. If therefore animals could talk, they would reason as cleverly on all subjects as men. A proof of this is that they think from reason and prudence just as much as men.

5. The understanding is merely a modification of sunlight with the co-operation of heat by means of the ether, so that it is simply an activity of more inward nature. This activity can be raised to such a height that it looks like wisdom.

6. It is therefore useless to believe that man lives after death any more than an animal does, except that perhaps for a few days after death an exhalation of the life of the body may appear as a cloud in the form of a ghost, before being dispersed into nature. This is very much as when a twig picked out of the ashes of a fire may appear to retain the likeness of its shape.

7. Consequently religion, which teaches that life continues after death, is an invention so that the simple may be kept inwardly obedient by its laws, just as they are kept outwardly obedient by the civil law.

They added that these were the reasonings of those who were only clever, but not intelligent. 'What do the intelligent think?' they asked. The reply was that they had not heard, but they were of the opinion that they thought the same.

[5] On hearing this all who were sitting at the tables said: 'What times they live in on earth now! What sad changes wisdom has undergone! It seems to have turned into foolish cleverness. The sun has set and is beneath the earth, diametrically opposite its noon position. How can anyone fail to know from the evidence of the people abandoned and then found in the forests, that this is what man is like if he receives no instruction? Surely he is what he is taught to be. By birth he is more ignorant than animals. He must then learn to walk and to talk. If he did not learn to walk, would he stand upright on his feet? And if he did not learn to talk, would he be able to utter any of his thoughts? Surely everyone is what he is taught to be, crazy if taught falsities, wise if taught truths? And if he is crazy from being taught falsities does he not imagine himself to be wiser than the man who is wise from being taught truths? Are there not foolish and deranged people who are no more human beings than those who were found in the forests? Are not those who have lost their memory like them?

[6] 'From both these sets of facts we draw the conclusion that a man is not a man without instruction, and is not an animal either, but he is a form capable of receiving in himself what makes a man human, so that he is not born a man, but becomes one. Man has by birth a form such that he can be an instrument for the reception of life from God, with a view to being a subject into which God can put all good, and by union with Himself make blessed for ever. We perceive from what you say that wisdom at the present time is so far extinct or turned to foolishness, that there is total ignorance about the terms upon which human beings live as compared to those on which animals live. As a result, they do not know either anything about how a person lives after death. But those who are able, but unwilling, to know about this, and so deny its reality, as many of you Christians do, can be likened to the people found in the forests. It is not that they have become so stupid through being deprived of instruction, but they have made themselves stupid by relying on the fallacies of the senses, which are the darkness that conceals truths.'

[7] But then someone standing in the middle of the Palladium and holding a palm-frond in his hand said: 'Please unravel this mystery. How could man having been created a form of God be changed into the form of a devil? I am well aware that the angels of heaven are forms of God, and the angels of hell are forms of the devil, and that these two are completely opposite forms, one of madness, the other of wisdom. Tell me, then, how could man created as a form of God pass from daylight into such a night as to be able to deny the existence of God and everlasting life?'

The teachers replied one after the other, first the Pythagoreans, then the Socratics, and afterwards the rest. But among them there was a certain follower of Plato, who was the last to speak. His opinion, which was adopted, went like this. The people of the age of Saturn, the golden age, knew and acknowledged that they were forms for the reception of life from God, and consequently they had wisdom written upon their souls and hearts, so that they saw truth by the light of truth, and truths enabled them to perceive good by the pleasure of its love. 'But,' he said, 'as in the following periods the human race retreated from the acknowledgment that all the truths of wisdom and thus all the good of love they had was continually flowing in from God, they ceased to be dwelling-places of God, and then too they stopped talking with God and mixing with angels. For the interiors of their minds were diverted from their previous direction, which was being raised upwards by God towards God, and they were turned further and further aside, outwards to the world, and so directed by God to God by way of the world. Finally they were turned in the opposite direction, which is downwards towards oneself. Because a person who is inwardly turned upside down or away cannot look to God, people separated themselves from God and became forms of hell, and so of the devil.

'It follows from this that in the earliest ages people acknowledged with heart and soul that all the good of love, and so all the truth of wisdom, came to them from God, and also that this good and truth were God's in them, so that they were purely receivers of life from God; which is why they were called images of God, sons of God and born of God. But in the following ages people no longer acknowledged this with their heart and soul, but by some incorrect belief, later by historical faith and finally merely professing it with the lips. Acknowledging anything of this kind merely by professing it with the lips is not acknowledging it, and is in fact denying it at heart.

[8] 'These facts enable us to see what wisdom is like on earth among present-day Christians. They can still be inspired by God as the result of a written revelation, while not being aware of the difference between man and an animal. Thus many people believe that if man lives after death, so too must an animal; or because an animal does not live after death, neither can man. Surely our spiritual light, which enlightens our mental vision, is in their case turned into thick darkness; and their natural light, which only enlightens the bodily vision, has become dazzling light to them?'

[9] After this speech all turned to the two newcomers and thanked them for coming and bringing their report; and they begged them to carry back to their brethren a report of what they had heard. The newcomers replied that they would strengthen their people in their belief in this truth, that in so far as they attribute all the good of charity and all the truth of faith to the Lord and not to themselves, so far are they human beings and so far do they become angels of heaven.

TCR 696. Fifth Memorable Relation:

I once prayed to the Lord for permission to talk with the disciples of Aristotle, also with the disciples of Descartes and Leibnitz, in order that I might learn their views of the Interaction between the Soul and the Body. When I had ceased praying, nine men approached, three of them disciples of Aristotle, three of Descartes, and three of Leibnitz; and they stood round about me, - the adorers of Aristotle on my left, at my right the followers of Descartes, and behind me the adherents of Leibnitz. Far away and widely separated from each other there seemed to be three men crowned with laurel, and by a perception flowing in from heaven, I recognized them as those great leaders or teachers themselves; while behind Leibnitz a man stood holding on to the skirt of his garment, who was said to be Wolf.

[2] When these nine men saw each other they at first saluted and spoke to each other in gentle tones. But just then a spirit with a torch in his right hand rose up from the lower regions, and waved the torch before their faces; and thereupon the three parties became enemies, and looked at each other with fierce countenances; for the lust of altercation and dispute seized them. The Aristotelians, who were also schoolmen, began by saying, "Who does not see that objects flow in through the senses into the soul, as one passes through a door into a chamber, and that the soul thinks in accordance with that influx? When the lover sees the beautiful virgin or bride does not his eye sparkle and hear the love of her to his soul? When a miser sees bags of money, is there not a burning for them in all his senses and from these is not this order transferred to his soul, exciting the desire to possess them? When a vain man hears another praising him, does he not prick up his ears, and do not these transmit the praises to his soul? Are not the senses of the body like entrance-halls, through which alone there is ingress to the soul? From these facts and innumerable others like them, who can draw any other conclusion than that influx is from nature, or is physical?"

[3] To these remarks the followers of Descartes, holding their fingers to their foreheads a while and then withdrawing them, replied by saying, "Alas you speak from appearances; do you not know that it is not the eye but the soul that loved the virgin or bride; and likewise that the senses of the body do not desire the money in the bags from themselves, but from the soul; and again, not otherwise do the ears drink in the praise of flatterers? Is not perception the cause of sensation? And perception belongs to the soul, not to the organ. Tell us, if you can, what is it but the thought that causes the tongue and lips to speak? And what is it but the will that causes the hand to work? Yet thought and will belong to the soul. So what is it but the soul that causes the eye to see, the ear to hear, and the other organs to feel, to attend to objects and turn toward them? From these facts and innumerable others like them anyone who is wise above the sensual things of the body concludes that influx is not from the body into the soul, but from the soul into the body; this we call occasional and also spiritual influx."

[4] On hearing this the three men who stood behind the former triads and who were adherents of Leibnitz, raised their voice and said, "We have heard the arguments of both sides and have compared them, and have perceived that in many respects the last arguments are the stronger, while in many other respects the first are the stronger. Therefore, with your permission we will settle the dispute."

When asked how they would do this, they said, "There is no influx of the soul into the body, not of the body into the soul, but there is a unanimous and instantaneous operation of the two together, which a celebrated author has designated by the beautiful term, preestablished harmony."

[5] After all this the spirit again appeared with the torch in his hand, but this time in his left hand, and he waved the torch at the backs of their heads, whereby the ideas of all of them became confused, and they cried out, "Neither our souls nor our bodies know what side we should take; therefore let us decide the dispute by lot; we will adopt whichever comes out first."

And they took three pieces of paper, on one of which they wrote the words, Physical influx; on the second, Spiritual Influx; and on the third, Preestablished Harmony. They put the three papers in a cap, and chose one of their number to draw. He put his hand into the cap and drew out the paper on which was written, Spiritual Influx. When they saw this and read it, they all said, - some speaking in a clear and flowing and some in a faint and restrained tone, "We adopt that, because it came out first." But then an angel suddenly stood near and said, "Do not think that the paper that was for Spiritual Influx came out by chance; it came providentially; for you, with your confused ideas do not see its truth; but the truth offered itself to the hand of him who drew the lot, in order that you might adopt it."

4658. To the inner parts of the ear belong those who have 'the sight' of the inner hearing, who obey whatever its spirit there tells them and make exactly right declarations of what it tells them. I have also been shown what these are like from the following experience. I became aware of a kind of noise coming through from below me, coming up on the left side of me into my left ear. I realized that they were spirits who were trying to work their way out, but I could not make out what kind of spirits they were. Having worked their way out, however, they then spoke to me. They said that they were students of logic and metaphysics and that they had confined their thoughts to these areas of knowledge with no other end in view than that they would be considered learned and so would acquire positions and wealth. They moaned about the wretched life they now led, for they had become steeped in those areas of knowledge for no other purpose, and so had not used this to bring perfection to their power of reason. Their speech was slow and muted.

[2] Meanwhile two were talking to each other overhead, and I asked who they were. I was told that one of them was a very renowned figure in the learned world, and I was led to believe that he was Aristotle. Who the second one was, I was not told. The first of them was at that point taken back to a state he had passed through when he lived in the world; for anyone can easily be taken back to a state of his life when in the world because every state of his life is present within him. But to my surprise he positioned himself at my right ear and there spoke in a hoarse yet intelligible voice. From the meaning conveyed in his utterances I became aware that he was of an entirely different disposition from those schoolmen who had emerged first, in that the things he had written were the product of his own thought and that this was the origin of his philosophical ideas. Consequently the terms which he invented and gave to different facets of his thoughts were verbal expressions by which he described the things of an interior kind. I also became aware of the fact that he had been prompted to engage in such pursuits by a great delight and a desire to know the ideas that are part of thought, and that he followed obediently whatever his spirit had told him. This was why he had positioned himself at my right ear. His followers, called the Schoolmen,* are different. They do not proceed from thought to terms but from terms to ideas comprising thought, and so go down the road from the opposite end. Indeed, many do not even set off down it to these ideas but stay with terms; and if they use these it is to prove whatever they like, and to give falsities an appearance of truth, in keeping with their desire to convince people of these. Consequently their pursuit of philosophy serves to make them stupid rather than wise persons, so that darkness prevails among them instead of light.

[3] I talked to them after that about the science of analysis, and I was led to say that a small child speaking for merely half an hour presents more philosophy, analysis, and logic than he could have done in volumes describing them, for the reason that every detail of human thought and consequently of human speech involves analysis, the laws of which originate in the spiritual world. I went on to say that anyone who wishes in his thinking to begin in an artificial way with terms is not unlike a dancer who wishes to start to learn how to dance from what he knows about motor fibres and muscles. If in trying to dance he fixed his mind simply on his knowledge of these he could scarcely lift a foot. Yet even without that knowledge he moves all his motor fibres spread throughout the whole body, using them to operate his lungs, diaphragm, sides, arms, neck, and every other part of the body, to describe all of which many volumes would not be sufficient. Similar to such a dancer were those who wish in their thinking to begin with terms. He agreed with what I said and declared that if that is the way people learn they are proceeding in the wrong direction. If anyone wished to be so stupid, he added, then let him go that way; even so, let him always keep in mind what is useful and what is interior.

[4] After this he showed me what kind of idea he had had about the Supreme Deity. He had represented Him to himself as one with a human face and a halo around his head. He now knew that the Lord was that Person, that the halo was the Divine as this proceeded from Him, and that He flowed not only into heaven but also into the whole world, disposing and ruling over these. He added that the one who disposes and rules heaven also disposes and rules the whole world because the one is inseparable from the other. He also declared that he had believed in one God alone whose attributes and qualities had been designated by the same number of names as there were gods whom others worshipped.

[5] I saw a woman who was reaching out her hand, desiring to stroke his cheek. When I wondered at this he said that while in the world he had often seen a woman like this one who seemed to be stroking his cheek, and that her hand had been beautiful. Angelic spirits said that women like her had been seen on occasions by people in early times who gave the name Pallas to them, and that whoever had appeared to him had been one of those spirits who, when they had lived as people in ancient times, had taken delight in ideas and so had gone into the field of thought, though not into philosophy. And since such spirits had resided with him and had taken delight in him because he had begun in his thinking with that which was interior they had put forward such a woman to represent this.

[6] Finally he intimated what kind of idea he had had about the human soul or spirit, which he called pneuma, namely something living but invisible, like something ethereal. He also said that he had known his spirit would live on after death because it was his inward essential self which, having the ability to think, could not die. He then went on to say that he had not been able to have any clear thought about the soul, only an obscure one, because his only source of knowledge about it was himself and, to a small extent, what he had received from the ancients. Aristotle himself lives among intelligent spirits in the next life, but many of his followers dwell among people who are stupid.

6. The Word and Natural Theology-That There Is No Natural Theology Apart from the Word and Without Being from it

(Also the Excellence of the Style of Expression in the Word)

I once heard a serious argument between spirits who had been scholars in the world, some whose learning was from the Word, some whose learning was from natural sight only. The latter kept insisting that natural theology is enough, maintaining that a person can be taught and even enlightened by natural theology apart from the Word so as to clearly see that there is a God, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that souls have immortality and thus eternal life. The others kept saying, however, that only the Word teaches and enlightens with regard to such things. The spirits who were for natural theology alone began to vehemently assail those who sided with the Word, and this for several days, thinking in their hearts and finally saying that the Word is nothing special, that in place after place it was written in a style so simple and at the same time so unintelligible that no one could learn anything from it, still less be enlightened by it, and that the writings of learned men-such as the writings of Cicero, Seneca and some of today's scholars-were much superior.

But the others replied that the style of expression in the Word excels that of all the learned men in the whole world, because there is not a sentence in it, nor even a word or letter, which does not have in it something relating to the Lord and so something relating to heaven and the church, inasmuch as the Word is from God and is therefore at its heart spiritual. Furthermore, they said, this Divine quality lies inwardly hidden in the Word as the soul is in the body, but when a person reads it with reverence, its Divinity is gradually unfolded before angels, who, on account of the spiritual things thus disclosed, are affected by the holiness in it, a sense of holiness that is communicated to the person. It is apparent from this, they concluded, that the style of expression in the Word, however simple it appears, is infinitely superior to every style of expression employed by the learned in the world, because no matter how polished and elegant and lofty their style may be, it still does not effect communication with heaven, so that in comparison to the style in the Word it is altogether inferior.

[2] The spirits who were championing natural theology heard these things, indeed, but still they rejected them, because in the world they had regarded the Word with complete disdain, and those who disdain the Word in the world and confirm their disdain with passages from the Word, after death continue to hold it in disdain forever. For every tenet adopted in the world respecting God and the Word, in which one then confirms himself, remains firmly implanted after death and cannot be rooted out. And because these spirits were therefore in communication not with heaven but with hell, they began to ally themselves with certain satanic spirits there, until at last they and the satanic spirits spoke with one voice and, gnashing their teeth, breathed words of murder against the life of those who stood by the Word. But still they could do nothing at all, for the Lord was on the side of those other spirits, whereas they had only satanic spirits on their side. Therefore those other spirits were taken up into heaven, while these were cast down into hell.

[3] Some angels afterward talked about natural theology, saying that it reveals nothing without the Word but supports only those things which are known in the doctrine of the church from the Word. Moreover, they said, when confirmations drawn from nature by means of rational sight corroborate spiritual truths, they do so for the reason that everyone has some natural idea of spiritual things by which he holds them in the memory and calls them forth from there into thought and rationally considers and expresses them. If, therefore, additional support is found in nature, truth is corroborated. But still, the angels said, one must take care not to seize on falsity instead of truth, since falsity can be defended just as well as truth by those who have the ingenuity. Consequently some deviation from the truth may be confirmed even to the destruction of the truth itself.

[4] The angels added that no one can enter from natural theology into spiritual theology, but that anyone might enter from spiritual theology into natural theology, because to do the latter is in accord with Divine order, while to do the former is contrary to Divine order. For everything natural is crude and full of impurities, whereas everything spiritual is fine and pure. It is not possible to enter from something crude and full of impurities into things that are fine and pure, but just the opposite. Angels can look down and see everything that is below them, but no one can see from below the things which are in the heavens. In fact, an angel can view a spirit cruder than himself without the spirit's being able to see the angel, who is purer. That is why, when spirits like this go up into heaven where the angels are-a frequent occurrence-they see no one, not even their houses, so that they go away saying that it is empty and uninhabited there.

[5] It is similar with the Word. Those who do not believe in the Word on the evidence of the Word cannot possibly believe anything Divine on the evidence of nature. As the Lord teaches:

They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.... If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:29, 31)

So it is with anyone who, rejecting the Word, tries to believe on the basis of nature alone. Some of the ancients wrote about the existence of God and the immortality of the soul even though they were pagans-men like Aristotle, Cicero and others-but what they wrote they did not know about in the first place from their own natural sight, but from the religion of ancient peoples, among whom there had been a Divine revelation which was gradually spread to gentiles.

Earths in the Universe

EU 38. Spirits of Mercury came to a certain spirit from our earth, who during his abode in the world had been most distinguished for his learning (it was Christian Wolf), desiring to receive information from him on various subjects. But when they perceived that what he said was not elevated above the sensual things of the natural man, because in speaking his thoughts were intent on honor, and be was desirous, as in the world (for in the other life every one is like his former sea, to connect various things into series, and from those series again and continually to form other conclusions, and thus from such conclusions to link together still more, which they did not see or acknowledge to be true, and which therefore they declared to be chains which neither cohered in themselves, nor with the conclusions, calling them the obscurity of authority; they then desisted from asking him further questions, inquiring only, how this is called, and how that; and because he answered these inquiries also by material ideas, and by no spiritual ones, they retired from him. For every one, in the other life, speaks spiritually, or by spiritual ideas, so far as he had believed in God, and materially, so far as he had not believed. An occasion here offering itself, it is permitted to mention how it is in the other life with the learned who acquire intelligence from their own meditation, kindled with the love of knowing truths, for the sake of truths, thus for the sake of uses abstracted from worldly considerations, and how with those who acquire intelligence from others, without any meditation of their own, as they are wont to do who desire to know truths solely for the sake of a reputation for learning, and thereby for honor or gain in the world; thus who desire to know truth, not for the sake of uses abstracted from worldly considerations: concerning such, it is allowed to relate the following experience.

A certain sound was perceived penetrating from beneath, near the left side even to the left ear. I observed that they were spirits, who there attempted to force a way; but of what sort they were I could not know. However, when they had forced a way, they spoke with me, saying that they were logicians and metaphysicians, and that they had immersed their thoughts in such things, with no other end than to be accounted learned, and thus to be advanced to honor and wealth, lamenting that they now led a miserable life in consequence of having acquired those sciences with no other end, and thus not having cultivated thereby their rational; their speech was slow, and of a low tone. In the meantime there were two discoursing with each other above my head, and on inquiring who they were, it was said that one of them was most renowned in the learned world, and it was given me to believe that it was Aristotle. Who the other was, was not stated.

The former was then let into the state in which he was during his life in the world; for every one may easily be let into the state of his life which he had in the world, because be has with him every state of his former life. But, what surprised me, he applied himself to the right ear, and there spoke, but in a hoarse tone of voice, yet sanely. From the purport of his speech I perceived, that he was altogether of a different genius from those schoolmen who first ascended, in that he evolved from his own thought the things he had written, and thence he produced his philosophy; so that the terms which he invented, and which he imposed on subjects of thought, were forms of expression by which he described interior things; also that he was excited to such things by a delight of the affection, and by a desire of knowing the things of the thought and understanding, and that he followed obediently whatever his spirit had dictated. Therefore he applied himself to the right ear, contrary to the custom of his followers, who are called schoolmen, and who do not go from thought to terms, but from terms to thoughts, thus in a contrary

way; and many of them do not even proceed to thoughts, but stick solely in terms, which if they apply, it is to confirm whatever they desire, and to impose on falsities an appearance of truth according to their cupidity of persuading. Hence philosophical things are rather means of becoming insane than means of becoming wise; and hence they have darkness instead of light. Afterwards I spoke with him concerning the science of analysis, observing that a child, in half an hour, speaks more philosophically, analytically, and logically, than he could describe by a volume, inasmuch as all things of the thought, and thence of human speech are analytical, the laws whereof are from the spiritual world; and he who desires to think artificially from terms, is not unlike a dancer, who would learn to dance by the science of the moving fibers and muscles, in which science, if he should fix his mind whilst he is dancing, it would be almost impossible for him to move a foot; and yet without that science, he moves all the moving fibers throughout the whole body, and in subordination thereto be moves the lungs, the diaphragm, the sides, the arms, the neck, and other organs of the body, to describe all which volumes would not suffice; and it is similar with those who are desirous to think from terms.

He approved of these things, saying, that to learn to think in that way, is proceeding in an inverted order, adding if any one will be so foolish, let him so proceed; but let him think continually concerning use, and from what is interior. He next showed me, what idea he had conceived of the Supreme Deity, namely, that he had represented Him to himself as having a human face, and encompassed about the head with a radiant circle; and that now be knew that the Lord is Himself that Man, and that the radiant circle is the Divine from Him, which not only flows into heaven, but also into the universe, disposing and ruling all things therein. He added, Whosoever disposes and rules heaven, also disposes and rules the universe, because the one cannot be separated from the other. He also said that he believed in one God only, whose attributes and qualities were distinguished by a variety of names, and that these names were by others worshiped as gods. There appeared to me a woman, who stretched out her hand, desiring to stroke my cheek, and when I wondered at this, he said that when he was in the world such a woman had often appeared to him, as it were stroking his cheek, and that her hand was beautiful.

The angelic spirits said that such women sometimes appeared to the ancients, and were by them called Pallases, and that she appeared to him from the spirits, who, during their abode on earth, in ancient times, were delighted with ideas, and indulged in thoughts, but without philosophy: and because such spirits were with him, and were delighted with him, because he thought from the interior, therefore they representatively exhibited such a woman. Lastly, he informed me what idea he had conceived of the soul or spirit of man, which he called pneuma, namely, that it was an invisible vital principle, like somewhat of ether; and he said that he knew that his spirit would live after death, inasmuch as it was his interior essence, which cannot die, because it is capable of thinking; and that moreover he was not able to think clearly concerning it, but only obscurely, because he had not formed any thought about it from any other source than from himself, and a little also from the ancients. Moreover Aristotle is among sound spirits in the other life, and many of his followers are among the foolish.



Sacred Scripture

SS 115. But as there are those who maintain, and have confirmed themselves in the opinion, that without a Word it is possible for a man to know of the existence of God, and of heaven and hell, and of all the other things taught by the Word, and as they thereby weaken the authority and holiness of the Word, if not with the lips, yet in the heart, therefore it is not practicable to deal with them from the Word, but only from rational light, for they do not believe in the Word, but in themselves. Investigate the matter from rational light, and you will find that in man there are two faculties of life called the understanding and the will, and that the understanding is subject to the will, but not the will to the understanding, for the understanding merely teaches and shows the way. Make further investigation, and you will find that man's will is what is his own [proprium], and that this, regarded in itself, is nothing but evil, and that from this springs what is false in the understanding.

[2] Having discovered these facts you will see that from himself a man does not desire to understand anything but that which comes from the own of his will, and also that it is not possible for him to do so unless there is some other source from which he may know it. From the own of his will a man does not desire to understand anything except that which relates to himself and to the world; everything above this is to him in thick darkness. So that when he sees the sun, the moon, the stars, and chances to think about their origin, how is it possible for him to think otherwise than that they exist of themselves? Can he raise his thoughts higher than do many of the learned in the world who acknowledge only nature, in spite of the fact that from the Word they know of the creation of all things by God? What then would these same have thought if they had known nothing from the Word?

[3] Do you believe that the wise men of old, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, and others, who wrote about God and the immortality of the soul, got this from themselves [proprio]? Not so, but from others who had it by tradition from those who first knew it from the [Ancient] Word. Neither do the writers on natural theology get any such matters from themselves. They merely confirm by rational arguments what they have already become acquainted with from the church in which is the Word; and there may be some among them who confirm without believing it.

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