Emanuel Swedenborg

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"The Swedish naturalist Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) studied philosophy, mathematics, physics and applied mechanics and went on to produce an impressive oeuvre in the physical and organic sciences. Trained in the Cartesian philosophy of his day, with its strict separation between matter and spirit, he experienced a deep religious crisis in 1744: forced to admit to himself that his scien- tific explorations led him to the ‘abyss’ of pure materialism, he prayed to God for help and was granted a vision of Christ. After this pivotal event, he spent the rest of his life writing visionary works, in Latin, on the true meaning of the bible and the spiritual realities of heaven and hell."[1]

Emmanual Kant, after investigation, considered Swedenborg's visions of the spirit world to be veridical. "Swedenborg’s paranormal experiences were publicly tested and found to be veridical by certain credible people. First, in 1761, a princess tested Swedenborg’s supernatural abilities by asking him to communicate with a particular deceased spirit, and a few days later, Swedenborg successfully conveyed a private message from the deceased spirit to the princess, which absolutely convinced her of Swedenborg’s mystical abilities. Kant adds that “[t]he credibility of such a report stunned me”" [2] This despite the fact that Kant did not view the entire Swedenborgian corpus as grounded and relevant.


  1. Hanegraaff, Wouter J. Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. p. 37.
  2. Maharaj, Ayon. “Kant on the Epistemology of Indirect Mystical Experience.” Sophia 56, no. 2 (June 2017): 314-5. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11841-016-0528-y.