May 24, 2011 | By

Kant v. Swedenborg on Inertia

Karl Birjukov posted an interesting essay on New Church Perspective May 20, Swedenborg: A Man For Our Times, which posits that the fixed concept of inertia promoted in the writings of Immanuel Kant has been “winning the day” for the past 300 years, and that winning this competition of ideas was important enough to Kant that he would actively seek to discredit and undermine his opponents.  Karl thinks it is time to revisit this antiquated notion from the radical perspective offered by Emanuel Swedenborg.

My brief response is provided below:

Karl – great post, thank you.  I’m directing the new ISAS Forum – Integrating Science and Spirituality (, and your topic is near and dear to my heart.  I studied philosophy in college and remember my frustration with Immanuel Kant – in part because of his utter lack of humility.  Emanuel Swedenborg, whom I discovered at age 40, is a breath of fresh air – the epitome of humility, and, indeed, his ideas were 300 years ahead of his time.  I’ll leave you with two quotes from my post on God of the Gaps (

From Francis Bacon, a thinker often credited as the founder of the scientific method:  “To conclude, therefore, let no man upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied moderation think or maintain that a man can search too far, or be too well studied in the book of God’s word, or the book of God’s works, divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficience in both; only let men beware that they apply both to charity, and not to swelling; to use, and not to ostentation; and again, that they do not unwisely mingle or confound these learnings together.” (emphasis added) Francis Bacon, from The Advancement of Learning; Colours of Good and Evil, originally published in 1597.

Swedenborg, one hundred fifty years later, in an entry in his Spiritual Experiences (#5709), elaborated on Bacon’s recommendation by noting the two foundations of truth – natural and spiritual – and affirming that there is no conflict:  “Afterwards, I spoke about the foundations of truth, that they are two, one from the Word, the other from nature or from the truths of nature; …… But, still, they agree the one with the other; which is proved by a contemplation of certain things in the Word…… (continued) Since sciences have shut up the understanding, therefore, sciences may also open it; and it is opened so far as men are in good.” (emphasis added)

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