Emanuel Swedenborg

Swedenborg’s religious doctrine is surprisingly easy to analyze, because he claims that heaven is an expression of the mind. Therefore, if one knows how the mind functions, then one can evaluate both Swedenborg’s doctrine and his description of heaven from a cognitive perspective. And, when one uses mental symmetry to analyze Swedenborg, one concludes that he is accurately describing the functioning of a partially programmed mind. There is structure, but this structure is flawed; however it is flawed in a consistent manner which can be explained from a cognitive perspective.

On the positive side, Swedenborg’s idea of ‘ruling love’ is remarkably similar to the concept of mental networks, and he accurately describes what it would be like to exist as a disembodied mind without a physical body in a society of disembodied minds.

On the negative side, because Swedenborg did not understand how the mind functions, I suggest that his theory suffers from three basic flaws: First, he did not realize that Teacher thought and Teacher emotions are different than Mercy thought and Mercy emotions. Thus, he tries to explain everything in terms of one fundamental substance, an approach known as monism.

Second, Swedenborg says that heaven reflects the internal structure of the mind, but he did not know the structure of the mind, and so he describes a heaven which reflects the external physical structure of the human body.

Finally, even though Swedenborg talks about going beyond blind faith to rational thought, if one analyzes his vision of heaven from a cognitive perspective, one concludes that it is a portrayal of blind faith and not rational thought.

Thus, Swedenborg’s concepts are profound, but his theology is deeply flawed and his description of heaven is juvenile.

You can read a 22 page analysis here.


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4 Responses to Emanuel Swedenborg

  1. Onasander says:

    Okay…. read it all, sounds great. Three issues:

    What is his type, Perceiver? I assumed it was Perceiver while he was ‘just’ a scientist and engineer…. but he was the top in his field in Sweden at that time, and continued to be so, as he didn’t reveal this aspect of himself for many years until it was figured out by others.

    So how can he be a excellent specimen of Perciever thought rationally as the ultimate technician, and yet suddenly ‘fail’ in other respects. What would it be, some sort of lesion that was exactly where so as to allow this phenomena to occur? This isn’t a challenge to your theory, but more of a observation. I know of someone (not nearly as smart as swedenborg) who is in his 90s, was a science teacher, and is now into conspiracy theories from the radio and mysticism of every wiggly sort, typing people much like Swedenborg (I also note you type people as well, and so do I for that matter).

    2) Your making note of Mandala structures in swedenborg thought- the circles of heaven and hell with important people in the middle to the periphery. His typology is based on a galactic model of multiple solar systems throughout the universe, each attracting it’s own type, and it’s reminiscent of astrology (but isn’t quite it). I know by now that Mandalas are central to Perceiver thought, as well as Music….. I’ve seen this over and over again….. but you put emphasis on the trinity. The Vendanta religion, especially the Hare Krishna cult, is structured similarly- it’s Bhakti religion is heavily based on iconography, chanting, dancing, blind faith with bona fide traditions passed down from important men and sacred books who are equal to the idols they worship. They also have the embodiment of the caste system and all intelligence in relationship to the construction of the lord. I bring this up because they also have…… a trinity. So…. we have a issue here with your essay….. as your major point was he lacked a trinity. They have it, and it’s more advanced (but I wouldn’t say better- it has major issues, just more advanced in aspects of lifecycle of creation and destruction as that is what their major emphasis is on- didn’t do much to aid the progress of their civilization like the trinity in Christianity did in economics and government)…… so, how do you resolve this? Cause your major emphasis is on the superiority of the Christian complex. Note- they have Patanjali’s Yogasutra, so they do have a really, really, really advanced theory of mind…. more advanced than the stoics, and the stoics were the leaders in the western world in terms of psychology until Liebniz-Kant-Hegal’s tripartite revolution. It’s important to keep it in mind that the founders of just about every Hindu theology usually are experts in it, but actual followers of Bhakti (perceiver) religions tend NOT to be very knowledgeable about it, and a general air of ‘ignorance is bliss, screw your understanding, but we’re not intolerant, just know it’s this way or the highway anti-intellectualism, so now let’s dance’. There seems to be a willing partitioning of the divisions of sects with a understanding between them where their limits and congruency lay, with a odd ranking system on top of that.

    3) He was a theorist and anatomical biologist of the mind. He made a few discoveries of the mind that survive to this day, if someone laid a scalpel and a knife down before the two of you, he would make more expert navigation of it, naming the parts- few outside of a neural surgeon could pull that off, so don’t take any offense at that, I am merely underlining that though isolated, he wasn’t ignorant- very much a renaissance man, even if your painting him as a reactionary conservative in rejecting the industrial revolution he was himself helping to create. This being said, his major change, as silly as it is, was of massive importance to the 19th century world, and his movement had direct and indirect influences on Abraham Lincoln, as well as spiritualism in general- the 19th century floating ball in the room controlled by a con-artist sort.

    4) I am interested in when the dichotomy of the Perceiver Circle and the Teacher Circle (such as in Ramon Llull’s word based generative algorithm that proved god’s existence- as far as he was concerned at least) manage to mix, just how does it actually mix. I know Tibetian dualistic mandalas are the obvious answer, mixing words, emotions, color schemes, and universal understandings of facts together in a single geometrical unit…… but it’s being perceived by something. It’s obvious to me looking at it it’s meant for Contributors, as a tool exploiting Exhorter thought…. but what about Exhorters and Facilatators? Maybe the Facilitator is all together left out of this phenomena (when I was researching mandalas on medieval church windows, I note there are varieties not ‘unified’, the parts all over, yet geometrical in it’s ordering- just not yet a scene or symbol), but Exhorters surely have their own role in this. I am not picking them up on the radar yet.

    I am also interested in knowing how Teachers and Perceivers view circles/Mandalas in relationship to Exhorter, Contributor, and Facilitator thought.

    It’s basically our oldest language. Gobekli Tepe, 12,000 years old, is circle after circle…. and they didn’t build outside of that pattern. Plato said in the beginning we were all circles who rebelled. It’s the one thing I see popping up over and over again, and it contains a odd mathematical paradox in it in trying to square the circle….. I know contributors to the last seem convinced it’s possible but also are aware it’s not when we try (we’re our own worst enemy here).

    You touched upon this here, though not purposely. So…. I’m interested…. what’s the Harmony of the Spheres in your outlook.

    Thank You for taking this seriously-Swedenborg….. of all your previous writings, and that of your brother, this is the most useful to me, period. It gives me a better template to investigating mythology and theology and extracting philosophical concepts from it.

  2. lorinfriesen says:

    Swedenborg could have been a Perceiver person. I didn’t read enough about him as a person to be able to decide.

    1) The Perceiver person can use conscious control to step between rational thinking and blind faith, so they can be juxtaposed in his mind. These various sides only integrate when he gets a Teacher theory (which I got from working with my brother).

    2) Circles: I think of geometry and Platonic Forms. If you try to apply Teacher thought to Perceiver objects, then like the pre-Socratic philosophers, you will think that the most perfect shape is a circle. In order to discover science, you have to apply Teacher thought to Perceiver connections of cause-and-effect (going beyond just Perceiver to include Contributor). Thus, I see circles and spheres as a symptom of interpreting the universe in static terms.

    3) Considering Swedenborg lived in the 1700s, I’m quite impressed with what he did. But, I still think he was cognitively transitional, juxtaposing elements of old and new.


    Finally, Swedenborg’s general concept of heaven/hell resonates with me, though not the details. I know my body will die. Thus, the only thing that could survive is a disembodied mind/spirit/whatever. In order to investigate if such existence is possible, I must first be mentally capable of handling existence without a physical body. Plus, he really does describe the operation of mental networks quite perceptively.

    • Onasander says:

      I ‘understand’ the disembodied mind aspect….. but I note a good many Christians, and to a large extent myself, accepts the body as the soul. I’m not exactly in bad company in this one.

      I also need to point out, I’ve always looked at ‘perfect’ shapes as imperfect. Too flat a surface becomes curved. I’ve cone so far as to develope in my teens a system of mathematics very similar to the design of circular polarization (until recently I didn’t know what it was though, but pretty much mapped out a more advanced yet very similar system to it.


      It’s something that bothers me deeply, why there are only so many regular 3 dimensional polygons, and a limitation to the pattern of tessellations, and the rules of a color scheme. It’s not adding up correctly from my perspective, and these are issues I confronted from a very early age one way or another up to the present. It’s like playing a ‘fill in the blank’ game, but the line I’m given is considerably longer and has more blanks.

      Anyway, it’s not impressing anyone that I think about right angles and circles alot. It’s why I find hope in Buckminister Fuller, his introduction pretty much labeled him as a perceiver counterpart to what I go through, explaining the mechanics from his side.

      Circles are the one thing that pops up again and again in mathematics and philosophy, everyone seems to have a opinion on them, and instinctively uses them differently. For me, it’s a thing about to come alive in flux, and is imperfect unless it’s dynamic. I can accept a dynamic perfect circle. It’s the survival of my obsessive-compulsive disorder as a child I suppose. Running it’s full gambit of behavior shows it’s true form and I can rest satisfied with it having expended the possibilities, knowing it’s name to coincide with it’s potentiality and deposition instead of a face value symbolism for what it’s claimed to be. Seems so simple to accept something ‘as it is’ but it’s not for me.

  3. onasander says:

    We got ourselves a problem here Ive only recently begun to struggle with upon realizing it… I would of pointed it out immediately had your brother presented the above analysis.

    Swedenborg was a alchemist. As in the occult. The terminology that the theory hereuses is that of christian tradition used in analyzing personality (vatican uses four humors on dating websites, and we know the origins of the ennegram was christian, but none the less, this theory in particular)…. Swedenborg was very, very exacting in the discription of his text, scene by scene, emotion by emotion, as if he scripted them. I only know this because I myself have been writing a deeply detailed scene-locayion-time-dialogue script for his work conjugal love. There is no way possible he would remember every detail of a angel landing the walking around but then segway over a half hour of the dream…. the best part, or see aspects of the dream where everyone was talking in creepy unison. They guywas clearly writing his own script as well, and cut down on the scenes after editing and repeated daydreaming on certain scenes and forgetting the logical consequences of repetition as the text went on, seeing a idealized version fitting the details as he went along. Its so well done and obvious at time its clearly fraudulent.

    Im thinking he was using a earlier version of this theory…. given his massive interest in the occult…. the seriphot, the tree of life is certainly going to be known by him. He is by every indication very, very smart, but swedenborg scripted this stuff like a modern movie. And reworked it. I think his theory of mind was either the jewish-occult version of this, or a second cousin of a very related design, and thats why its so easy for this theory of yours to fit his.

    Now, he does wonders intuitively in linking behavior to abstract ideas…. he linked love to the parasympathetic nervous system for example. The guy wasnt a idiot….. quite bright, there is a reason both I, William James, and Kant cautioned and stumbled with him. He had TOO much insight. But its digging deep into the probable reason why. He scripted the characters in his story to the tree of life.

    Im thinking now he went from perceiver to a exhorter-contributor mix. He seems fascinated with the editorial process, and followed scripting his ideas out zealotly. By default its a fixation on the ability to manipulate the imagination. He was under censorship rules for years and years, and published with near anominity…. but we see people with huge egos on youtube do this all the time.

    Then again…. if it was copied from the tree of life, the differences between your theory and the original swedenborg used should differ in parts. This doesnt as far as I can reason inherently prove or disprove your initial analysis…. or prove or disprove your theory, but I am increasingly finding him to be a very crafty charlatan. I think the similarities are not because he was as your theory presents him to be, but rather because his method exploited a older but similar version of thetheory, and wanted to look all keter and da’at and use them to get a edge over the public.

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