The Swedenborg Scientific Association is pleased to make available this special issue of The New Philosophy first published in 1998 (Volume 101 Numbers 1&2 from January-June 1998) and guest edited by Kurt Simons.  This collection of articles gathers some of the best minds to address this important topic.

Download The Madness Hypothesis (1998)

The Madness Hypothesis Issue Complete


Editorial Remarks by Kurt Simons, Guest Editor
Henry Maudsley on Swedenborg’s Messianic Psychosis by John Johnson
Swedenborg’s Alleged Insanity by Brian M. Talbot
“Henry Maudsley on Swedenborg’s Messianic Psychosis”: Some Comments by Kurt Simons
Swedenborg’s Contemporary Insanity Accusers: Also Reflections on the Underlying Cause of Insanity Charges by Erik Sandstrom, Sr.
Emanuel Swedenborg by Elizabeth Foote-Smith and Timothy J. Smith
Diagnosing Emanuel Swedenborg by James L . Pendleton
Emanuel Swedenborg, Prophet or Paranoid? by Thomas W. Keiser
“Emanuel Swedenborg”: Some Comments by Kurt Simons
Seizures of a Spirit-Seer? by Reuben P. Bell

From the Introduction:

“Swedenborg presents a particularly, indeed perhaps uniquely, daunting challenge to any observer attempting to evaluate the applicability of the madness hypothesis to his claims of revelation. Adequate evaluation requires, at the least, analysis of the entire body of his preparatory and later avowedly revealed body of theological work, which runs, in various editions, to more than 30 volumes of detailed and often ideationally dense prose. To see the man in full context requires the still further investment of intellectual effort necessary to review not only an equally large shelf of pre-theological publications in areas ranging from mining engineering to biology, physics and philosophy—of the political as well as “pure” variety—but also to become acquainted with the biography of his long and event-packed life. And then there is the whole complex record of his transition into the theological period. Few of even the followers of Swedenborg’s teachings have mastered more than a part of this huge body of work. It is thus hardly surprising that few of those interested only in finding support for the madness hypothesis in explaining his work have been willing to attempt more than a first approximation to understanding of all this material. Historical examples of the difficulty of arriving at a simple evaluation are illustrated by the initial enthusiasm for Swedenborg’s work, followed by ultimate apparent rejection that in fact appears to disguise ambivalence, of his famous contemporaries, Immanuel Kant, and, according to Noble, John Wesley.”

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