Emanuel Swedenborg’s extraordinary diversity of interests and activities provides Presidents of The Swedenborg Society with a wide range of subjects from which to choose the annual Presidential address. Today I have chosen a subject to which Swedenborg gave much thought and which I think has not previously been presented at meetings of this Society.
In this essay we will be concerned with the questions and problems related to that atmosphere which is known as the ether; the medium of electromagnetism or light. An attempt will be made to give a summary of Swedenborg’s ether as outlined in his Principia and later in the Writings. Following this description we will trace some of the main developments in the theory of the luminiferous ether; a theory which exerted a strong influence on the thinking of physical scientists for over 300 years. The final section of this essay will contain some relevant results of modern physical theory and some speculations which we hope are not completely idle.
Reason is a more interior kind of imagination. It is a faculty of reflection, calling into review the images formed by the imagination, placing them side by side, analyzing by comparison and contrast their relation to one another, that their distinct qualities may be seen. Especially is it the ability to recognize the relation between cause and effect. This relationship is discovered by the laws of logic, and these lead the mind to perceive abstract forms of truth which are called thoughts. Thoughts are abstract ideas derived from imaginative pictures. Imagination reveals only what things are, while reason alone can discover an answer to the question why they exist. It brings to perception what lies back of the mental picture, the inner quality of the love that produced the image. It enables one to perceive loves, not in their own light, which always makes them appear good, true, and real, but in a higher light, the light of a higher love.