Spheres and Bubbles: Emanuel Swedenborg’s Theory of Matter and the Metaphors of the Mind

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


What is matter? One of the major themes in Emanuel Swedenborg’s thinking is the
relation between the material and the immaterial, body and soul. During all his life, as
a scientist and a visionary, Swedenborg (1688–1772) pondered on these questions. How
can we get knowledge about the invisible? The world beyond the scope of our senses?
The issue here is to explain the cognitive foundation of his matter theory expressed in
his early scientific works, written before he became a visionary and mystic. Namely, I
do not want to know just what he thought, but also how. In focus is the relation between
environment and cognition that gives rise to theories of nature: how we think about
that we can not see; how we understand the invisible through the visible. From the
known we understand the unknown.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History of Ideas
  • Languages and Literature
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmanuel Swedenborg—Exploring a “World Memory”. Context, Content, Contribution
EditorsKarl Grandin
PublisherThe Center for History of Science, Stockholm
ISBN (Print)978-0-87785-351-0
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch

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