There is a large variety of means whereby man’s mind and body carry out their uses. A number of them are under some conscious direction, as is the flow of thought into speech. Others are more fully automatic, such as happens with the co-ordination of sight, hearing and general muscular activity when driving a car. It is noteworthy that the human organism tends to use all the means it has for carrying out its uses as economically as possible; thus consciously learned functions tend to become habitual so as to free more energy for consciously dictated functions. For the sake of being useful, man’s mind needs to be as free as possible of those functions which are routine in the protection and maintenance of the whole organism. Central Nervous System centers automatically direct the program of protection and maintenance by activating and inactivating various bodily systems. Except for the process of filling the stomach, for example, digestion automatically takes place through Central Nervous System control. Similarly ordered is blood circulation, and the distribution of the products of digestion to where they are needed.
Several manuscripts in Swedenborg’s handwriting, formerly regarded as Swedenborg’s own productions and so listed in Hyde’s Bibliography (1906), have since been found to have originated with Christopher Polhem. Thus the text in Mathematics (Hyde XXIII) referred to in Swedenborg’s letter of February 14, 1716, was printed in part at Upsala in 1716, anonymously except for the phrase, “delivered by C. P.” Swedenborg probably had revised the treatise. An incomplete draft of the whole proposed book was found among Polhem’s manuscripts.
In stating that the natural mind of man is being formed in the organics of the natural body, it is well to define what the natural mind is. As generally used in the Writings, it means the mind with which man is furnished for his life in the natural world. This does not imply that it may not also be of use after death; especially since only those who are admitted into heaven have any other degree of the mind opened. Nor does it imply that the whole of the natural mind is used consciously and deliberately by man in this world. The New Church doctrine emphasizes that each degree of the mind consists of two essentials—a will and an understanding. Man’s consciousness dwells in the understanding belonging to the natural degree, and he becomes aware of the contents of his will only so far as it becomes manifested by gradual stages in his understanding. Thus the will—so far as it is not conjoined with his understanding—is unconscious. This is a provision of Divine mercy. For man cannot be held responsible for something of which he is not conscious; and the native will is so filled with inherited evils that it is totally corrupt.
This book is a collection of essays on the history and philosophy of science by an eminent astrophysicist who is now Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at University College, London. The book is divided into two sections: Historical Essays (9), and Philosophical Essays (10). All have been selected by the author from his previous writings and lectures. In his Preface, Professor Dingle says: “The order of the chapters is not chronological, nor is there usually any direct connecting link between one chapter and the next. The unity of the book is to be found in its viewpoint, and such value as it may have arises from the degree to which it succeeds in making the advantages of that viewpoint clear.”