Psychology 459 – January 19, 2006

Swedenborg’s Influences

By Tawny Antonio


The Swedenborg Epic. The Life and Works of Emanuel Swedenborg (Chapters 1-4).  By Cyriel Sigstedt, (1952).  (New York: Bookman Associates, 1952).  Available online at:


Instructions for this activity are found at:


Instructor: Dr. Leon James


I.                    Swedenborg’s Early Life

A.     Father- Jesper Swedberg

1.      Promoted by King Charles XI to rector and dean of the Upsala University

2.      Revised the Swedish Bible and the old hymn-book

a.       Upset members of the committee and some clergymen

3.      Raised his family in this college town

a.       Filled with educated men and religious observances

4.      Belief in the presence of spirits and the presence of another world

B.     Rene Descartes

1.      Believed that people should make their own deductions and draw independent conclusions

2.      Concerned with methods of thinking- mathematics

3.      Believed in natural truth and intuition- “I think, therefore I am.”

4.      His beliefs led to the controversy of freedom for philosophy

5.      Eventually, freedom of philosophy had been established

C.     Swedenborg’s studies

1.      Philosophy, law, latin

2.      Natural science and mathematics

3.      Wrote poetry

D.     Erik Benzelius

1.      Swedenborg looked at him as a second father

2.      Belief in the natural sciences

3.      Brilliant scholar

a.       Leader in the movement for freer methods of research

E.      Christopher Polhem

1.      Repaired machines

2.      Invented many new machines

3.      Swedenborg wanted to become a pupil of his


II.                 Swedenborg in England

A.     Boarded with a watchmaker, cabinet maker, maker of brass instruments

1.      Learned all these trades

B.     Studied Newton and other English scientists

C.     Rev. John Flamsteed

1.      Astronomer of England

2.      Director of the observatory in Greenwich

3.      Swedenborg became interested in solving the problem of determining longitude at sea

D.     Deep interest in astronomy grew

1.      Found new methods of observing the stars, planets, moon, etc.

2.      Very determined to solve the problem of longitude at sea

a.       Believed that he found the solution by means of the moon

E.      Broadened Swedenborg’s thinking

F.      Created descriptions of mechanical inventions

1.      Descriptions of these inventions resembled that of the submarine and airplane

G.     Returned to Sweden in 1715, about five years later

1.      Swedenborg still had intentions of studying with Polhem


Related Links:

This website gives a brief description of the history of Upsala University. This is the college that Emanuel both grew up in and learned. I chose this website to aid in our understanding of the life of Emanuel Swedenborg.

I chose this website in hopes that we can understand a little more about Rene Descartes. His thinking and beliefs greatly influenced many scholars of the 17th century. This website also explains the concept of dualism.

This website provides us with a biography of Christopher Polhem, the inventor with whom Emanuel Swedenborg was very interested in. It provides information on some of his accomplishments. This is the best website that I could find about Christopher Polhem.


My Home Page:


Class Home Page: