The New Philosophy Vol 60 No 2, April 1957
Space has an “eternally problematic” character. This was said originally of the concepts of space running through the ages, but it would seem to apply equally well to the concept of space in the works of Emanuel Swedenborg. In the Writings, the concept seems simple enough: Space in the natural world, but no space in the spiritual world. But when this seemingly simple concept is applied to the doctrine of discrete degrees and the creation of the natural world, this concept of space becomes “problematic” indeed; for how can space arise from a collection or heap of non-spatial substances ? How can spatial matters be created by the congregation or conglobation of substances which in themselves have no spatial qualities whatsoever? The more the non-spatial nature of the spiritual world is emphasized, the more serious is this difficulty.
When, in 1715, Swedenborg returned from his first journey abroad, he was a man of twenty-seven without an occupation. While at home in Brunsbo he made excursions in the neighborhood, curiously examining the phenomena of nature: soils, clays, springs, etc. He visited the neighboring mountain Kinnekulle with the idea of selecting a site for an observatory by which to supply the facts needed to establish his discovery as to finding the longitude. But he remained without an occupation. His thoughts then turned to a professorship. He even made formal application to Upsala University that he might be kept in mind in case of a vacancy. But before the Upsala authorities came to consider his letter, all thoughts of a professorship had left him, for in 1716 he was appointed by Charles XII as Assessor Extraordinary in the College of Mines, but temporarily assigned as Polhem’s assistant in the building of the dry dock and the extension of the Gothenburg Canal from Trollhätten to Stockholm, and in the work of establishing bineries in Sweden.
The thesis of a book called “Atlantis, a Geological Reality” (Atlantis, en geologisk verklighet, Stockholm, 1951), by Dr. Rene Malaise and described in the Swedish press as “ epoch-making,” is the result of cooperation with Professor Nils Odhner, his colleague in the invertebrate department of the Swedish Riksmuseum. This work presents the solution, by a new and tenable theory, of the origin of sunken continents which is beginning to receive recognition and approval from the learned press here and elsewhere.
The relation of Dr. Doering to the uses of the Swedenborg Scientific Association might be characterized by the words “modest” and “persistent”. The term “modest” can be used because he was not a prolific writer or student. He found writing difficult. Nevertheless, his strength among more prolific writers was felt because of his persistent adherence to certain philosophical doctrines. While the origin of these doctrines for Dr. Doering was without doubt in the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, he saw their ultimate representation in the early suggestion of them in the preparatory studies of Swedenborg.
Philosophy vs. Theology--Already in the discussion on the two approaches to philosophy, a distinction has been drawn between philosophy and theology. But in addition, as in the case of science vs. religion, there has been in the history of thought a so-called “conflict” between philosophy and theology.