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Immanuel Kant - Describes Swedenborg's conception of symbols



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Dreams of a Spirit Seer - Immanuel Kant

A principal conception in Swedenborg’s [conception] is the following:—Corporeal beings have no substance of their own, but exist only through the spirit-world, not, however, that each body exists through one spirit, but through all taken together.

For that reason the knowledge of material things has a double significance, an external meaning in regard to the inter-relations of matter, an internal meaning in so far as material effects indicate the powers of the spirit-world which cause them.

Thus the parts in the body of man stand in relation to each other according to material laws. But in so far as the body is preserved by the spirit living in it, its various members and their functions are of value in indicating those powers of the soul by the operation of which they have their form, activity, and stability.

This inner meaning is unknown to man, and it is that which Swedenborg, whose interiors are opened, wants to make known to the world.

With all other things of the visible world the case is the same; they have, as I say, a signification as things, which amounts to little, and another as signs, which amounts to much. This also is the origin of all the new interpretations which he would make of the Scripture. For this inner meaning, the internal sense, i.e., the symbolic relation of all things told there to the spirit-world, is, as he fancies, the kernel of its value, the rest only the shell.

The source of the experience

Swedenborg, Emanuel

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Symbol system

Activities and commonsteps