Interaction of the soul and body - Emanuel Swedenborg - ebook

Concerning the interaction between the soul and the body, or the operation of one into the other, and of one with the other, there are three opinions and traditions, which are hypotheses. The first is called Physical Influx, the second Spiritual Influx, and the third Pre-established Harmony.

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Interaction of the soul and body




Interaction of the soul and body







First digital edition 2017 by Anna Ruggieri


- 1. Concerning the interaction between the soul and the body, or the operation of one into the other, and of one with the other, there are three opinions and traditions, which are hypotheses. The first is called Physical Influx, the second Spiritual Influx, and the third Pre-established Harmony. The first, which is called Physical Influx, is from the appearances of the senses and the fallacies therefrom, since it appears as if the objects of sight, which affect the eyes, flow into thought and produce it; in like manner that speech, which moves the ears, flows into the mind and introduces ideas there; and similarly with the senses of smell, taste, and touch. Since the organs of these senses first receive the impressions from contact with the world, and according as they are affected the mind appears to think and also to will; for this reason the ancient philosophers and scholastics believed that influx was derived from these organs into the soul, and thus they adopted the hypothesis of physical or natural influx. [2] The second hypothesis, which is called Spiritual Influx, by some occasional influx, is from order and its laws; since the soul is a spiritual substance, and therefore purer, prior, and interior, but the body is material, and therefore grosser, posterior, and exterior; and it is according to order that purer should flow into grosser, prior into posterior, and interior into exterior, thus spiritual into material, and not the reverse. Consequently it is of order that the thinking mind should flow into the sight according to the state induced on the eyes from objects, which state the mind also disposes at will; and likewise the perceptive mind into the hearing according to the state induced on the ears from speech. [3] The third hypothesis, which is called Pre-established Harmony, is from the appearances and fallacies of reason, since the mind in its operation acts together and at the same time with the body. But yet every operation is first successive and afterward simultaneous. Successive operation is influx, and simultaneous operation is harmony; as when the mind thinks and afterward speaks, or when it wills and afterward acts. It is therefore a fallacy of reason to establish simultaneous operation and to exclude successive. Besides these three opinions concerning the interaction of the soul and the body, no fourth is possible, for either the soul must operate on the body, or the body on the soul, or both continually together.

- 2. Since spiritual influx is from order and its laws, as was said, therefore this influx has been acknowledged and received by the wise in the learned world in preference to the other two hypotheses. All that which is from order is truth, and truth manifests itself by the light implanted in it, even in the shade of reason, in which hypotheses are. But there are three things that involve this hypothesis in shade; ignorance of what the soul is, ignorance of what the spiritual is, and ignorance of what influx is; therefore these three must first be unfolded before reason sees the truth itself. For hypothetical truth is not truth itself, but only a conjecture of truth. It is as a picture on the wall seen at night by the light of the stars, on which the mind induces various forms according to its fancy. It is otherwise when the light of the sun after the dawn shines upon it, and disposes and brings to view not only its generals, but also its particulars. So out of the shade of truth in which this hypothesis is, truth is opened when it is known what the spiritual is and what is its quality in comparison with the natural, also what the human soul is and its quality, as well as the nature of the influx that flows into the soul and through it into the perceptive and thinking mind, and from this into the body. [2] But these things cannot be explained except by one to whom it has been granted by the Lord to associate with angels in the spiritual world and at the same time with men in the natural world. And because this has been granted to me, I have been able to describe both the spiritual and the natural, and their nature; which has been done in the work on Conjugal Love, the spiritual is described there in the Relation (n. 326-399); the human soul (n. 315); influx (n. 380); and more fully (n. 415-422). Who does not know, or may not know, that the good of love and the truth of faith flow from God into man, and that they flow into his soul, and are felt in his mind, and flow out from his thought into his speech, and from his will into his actions? [3] That spiritual influx, and its origin

and derivation, are from this, will be manifested in the following order: I. There are two worlds, the spiritual world, where spirits and angels are, and the natural world, where men are. II. The spiritual world existed and subsists from its own sun, and the natural world from its sun. III. The sun of the spiritual world is pure love from Jehovah God, who is in the midst of it. IV. From that sun proceed heat and light, and the heat proceeding from it is in its essence love, and the light thence is in its essence wisdom. V. Both that heat and that light flow into man, the heat into his will, where it produces the good of love, and the light into his understanding, where it produces the truth of wisdom. VI. These two, heat and light, or love and wisdom, flow conjointly from God into the soul of man, and through this into his mind, its affections and thoughts, and from these into the senses, speech, and actions of the body. VII. The sun of the natural world is pure fire, and by means of this sun the world of nature existed and subsists. VIII. Therefore everything which proceeds from this sun, regarded in itself, is dead. IX. The spiritual clothes itself with the natural, as a man clothes himself with a garment. X. Spiritual things thus clothed in a man enable him to live as a rational and moral man, thus a spiritually natural man. XI. The reception of that influx is according to the state of love and wisdom with man. XII. The understanding in man can be elevated into the light, that is, into the wisdom in which the angels of heaven are, according to the cultivation of his reason; and his will can be elevated in like manner into heat, that is, into love, according to the deeds of his life; but the love of the will is not elevated, except so far as man wills and does those things which the wisdom of the understanding teaches. XIII. It is altogether otherwise with beasts. XIV. There are three degrees in the spiritual world, and three degrees in the natural world, according to which all influx takes place. XV. Ends are in the first degree, causes in the second, and effects in the third. XVI. From these things it is evident what is the quality of spiritual influx from its origin to its effects. Each of these propositions shall now be briefly illustrated.