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Spiritual Vision and Revelation

Ernst Benz
Alfred Heron, Translator

CHAPTER VI

The Mystery of a Date--Fresh Light on Kant's
Criticism of Swedenborg

Kant's criticism of Swedenborg is the storm-center of a vehement dispute which has still not reached its conclusion, but which it is the intention of the present investigation to bring to a close once and for all. This dispute was kindled by the fact that two documents had been left behind by Kant in which he expressed himself very differently regarding the personality and the visionary endowments of Swedenborg. The first document is his short work titled (in translation) Dreams of a Spirit-Seer, Illustrated by Dreams of Metaphysics, published by Kant in Königsberg, 128 octave pages, 1766. Copies of this work were also available in the same year from the Hartknoch publishing house in Riga and Mitau. This book is of very considerable significance for the development of Kant's philosophy, as it was in his criticism of the visions and doctrines of Swedenborg, particularly his main work Arcana Coelestia, published in London over the period 1748 to 1753,1 that Kant developed his doctrine of the bounds of metaphysics; and actually his biographer Borowski, later Archbishop of Königsberg, correctly characterized this critical dispute of Kant with Swedenborg when he wrote of it: "Kant used this opportunity to declare metaphysics to be 'contraband.' From this point on, metaphysics is for him nothing but a science of the bounds of human reason. He quite frankly declares already that questions of the nature of spirit, or reality, or even of the possibility of individual, non-material beings, of the dwelling place of the soul, of the intercourse between spirit and body, etc. are beyond our powers of comprehension. In fact any attentive reader can find in this book already germs of the Critique of Pure Reason and other subsequent works of Kant."2


The New Philosophy is a publication of the Swedenborg Scientific Association
Incorporated October 20, 1906

This association was organized on May 27, 1898, for the preservation, translation, publication, and distribution of the scientific and philosophical works of Emanuel Swedenborg, and for the promotion of the principles taught in them, having in view likewise their relation to the science and philosophy of the present day.

The views expressed by authors are not necessarily those held by the Editor or the Editorial Board

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 06-37082
ISSN 0028-6443