Studia Swedenborgiana

Vol. 10 October,  1996 Number 1 

Kant on Swedenborg in the Lectures on Metaphysics, Part 1


by Gregory R. Johnson

But there are things about which one is led to certainty only though special persons. They require a degree of personal credibility which only a person of special character maintains. For example, if we are informed about dowsing rods or ghosts by persons of credible character then we begin to believe it. ?ant, Logik Philippi.

The present essay is a chapter of a larger project dedicated to revising the received view of Kant's attitude toward Swedenborg. According to most scholars, Kant's 1766 book Dreams of a Spirit-Seer, Illustrated by Dreams of Metaphysics is an attempt to criticize the metaphysics of the dominant "Leibniz-Wolff" school by linking it to Swedenborg?n the assumption that Swedenborg's ideas are so self-evidently absurd that simply likening any position to his is enough to reduce it to absurdity as well. Although many elements of Kant's mature metaphysics and moral philosophy are sketched out in Dreams of a Spirit-Seer, on the received view Swedenborg could not have exercised any positive influence on them. At best Swedenborg exercised only a negative influence, by stimulating Kant to break with dogmatic metaphysics and develop his mature critical philosophy.

I argue instead that it is possible to discern a number of positive Swedenborgian influences on Kant, particularly on Kant's conception of the ideality of space and time, which is a crucial tenet of his transcendental idealism; on his concept of the kingdom of ends, which is a central element of his moral philosophy; and upon his hermeneutics, which is pivotal for his moral philosophy, philosophy of history, and philosophy of religion. I argue, in short, that Kant took Swedenborg seriously, meaning that Kant thought that some of Swedenborg's ideas could possibly be true and therefore must be critically examined, not merely dismissed out of hand.

This is not, however, the impression one usually takes away from Dreams of a Spirit-Seer, a book filled with sneering and dismissive remarks about Swedenborg. Thus the core of my project is a detailed textual commentary on Dreams, in which I argue that the received view is based upon a one-sided and superficial reading of a text that is not in fact unambiguously hostile to Swedenborg but is rather systematically ambiguous and ironic. Kant, I argue, constructs his text on two levels, placing his criticisms of Swedenborg in the center while subtly negating, undermining, or qualifying them in the margins, intimating his serious interest in, and positive debts to, Swedenborg "between the lines." I also argue that Kant adopts this rhetorical strategy because of his fear of persecution from both the Prussian ecclesiastical and Enlightenment establishments, both of which were quite hostile to Swedenborg.

In this paper, I turn my attention to Kant's discussions of Swedenborg in his Lectures on Metaphysics. Kant offered his lecture course on metaphysics forty-nine different times over his long teaching career at the Herzog Albrect University in Königsberg. Although none of Kant's own lecture notes survive, the lecture notes taken by a number of his students are extant. A total of eighteen complete or partial sets of notes on Kant's metaphysics lectures are known. Ten of these were published in 1968 and in 1983 in the Akademie edition of Kant's collected works. In chronological order, they are: 1. Metaphysik Herder (1763?4), 2. Nachträge Herder (1763?4), 3. Metaphysik L1 (a.k.a. Metaphysik Pölitz) (mid-1770s), 4. Metaphysik Mrongovius (1782?3), 5. Metaphysik Volckmann (1784?5), 6. Metaphysik von Schön I (late 1780s), 7. Metaphysik L2 (also a.k.a. Metaphysik Pölitz) (1790?1), 8. Metaphysik K2 (1791?2 or 1792?3), 9. Metaphysik Dohna (1792?3), and 10. Metaphysik Vigilantius (a.k.a. Metaphysik K3 and Metaphysik Arnoldt) (1794?5). (The designations `K' and `L' stand for Königsberg and Leipzig respectively.) Of the eight remaining known sets of notes, four survived only in minor fragments and four have been completely lost. Metaphysik von Schön II (date unknown), which consists of twenty manuscript pages recording parts of Kant's introduction and his unit on ontology, is extant but has not been published. Metaphysik Korff (a.k.a. Metaphysik K1) (mid-1770s), and Metaphysik Rosenhagen (a.k.a. Metaphysik H) (also mid-1770s) both consisted of notes on Kant's introduction and on portions of his ontology unit. Although the originals were lost during World War II, scholars believe that Metaphysik Korff, Metaphysik Rosenhagen, and Metaphysik L1 are all copies of a fourth, unknown original, and since Max Heinze's 1894 edition of Metaphysik L1 notes the textual variants and overlaps between the three texts, it in effect contains Metaphysik Korff and Metaphysik Rosenhagen as well. Metaphysik Willudovius (a.k.a. Metaphysik Marienstift), consisted of a fragment of undetermined length, probably from the early 1790s. It has been completely lost. Of the other four sets, Metaphysik Nicolai (1775?6), Metaphysik Motherby (1792?3), Metaphysik Hippel (date unknown) and Metaphysik Reicke (a.k.a. Metaphysik Königsberg) (date unknown), only the names (and two of the dates) are known; the texts have been completely lost.

The surviving notes indicate that Kant made regular reference to Swedenborg in his metaphysics lectures in the unit on rational psychology under the topic of the state of the soul after death. In the eleven extant texts, there are explicit references to Swedenborg in: 1. Metaphysik Herder, 2. Nachträge Herder, 3. Metaphysik L1, 4. Metaphysik Volckmann, 5. Metaphysik L2, 6. Metaphysik K2, and 7. Metaphysik Dohna. There is, furthermore, an allusion to Swedenborg in Metaphysik Mrongovius, even though his name is not explicitly mentioned. The evidence of the remaining extant texts is inconclusive, for the sections on the state of the soul after death are missing from Metaphysik Vigilantius, Metaphysik von Schön I, and Metaphysik von Schön II. As for the lost texts: Metaphysik Korff and Metaphysik Rosenhagen did not contain notes on the state of the soul after death, and there is simply no way of knowing whether Swedenborg was discussed in Metaphysik Willudovius, Metaphysik Nicolai, Metaphysik Motherby, Metaphysik Hippel, and Metaphysik Reicke, for their contents are completely unknown. Furthermore, there is a reference to Swedenborg in one of the four sets of notes on Kant's Lectures on Rational Theology published in the Akademie edition, in the so-called Fragment einer späteren Rationaltheologie nach Baumbach (1789?0 or 1790?1).

A survey of these texts allow us to frame two rather strong conclusions: first, Swedenborg's visions are discussed in all surviving notes on Kant's lectures on the state of the soul after death. His name is explicitly mentioned in seven of these discussions, and his ideas are clearly present in the eighth. Second, these notes are dated by various authorities from 1762 at the earliest to 1793 at the latest. Thus we know that Kant was sufficiently impressed by Swedenborg to lecture on his ideas for more than thirty years. Furthermore, in what follows, I shall argue that this impression is mostly positive. As recorded in these texts, the tone of Kant's remarks on Swedenborg range from the laudatory ("sehr erhaben"?quot;quite sublime") to the sharply critical ("Er scheint . . . Ein vorsätzlicher Betrüger gewesen zu sein"?e appears . . . To have been a deliberate fraud"), but with this one exception, the tone is always respectful. Since Kant explicitly discusses Swedenborg in a total of fifteen different texts, these lecture notes constitute about half of the material upon which an interpretation of the Kant-Swedenborg relationship must be based. What follows is the first attempt to translate and comment upon all of these texts. (Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.)

1. Hermeneutical Considerations

As interesting as these notes are, however, making use of them poses a number of hermeneutic problems. The first problem is that these texts are not Kant's own writings. They are, rather, more closely analogous to works of secondary literature on Kant. They are Kant's ideas as interpreted by his students, as well as by subsequent copyists and editors. The extant texts went through at least four stages of production. First, Kant's words were taken down by his students amidst the jostle and distraction of a crowded lecture hall. And every teacher has, at one time or another, been astonished at the countless unpredictable ways in which students can misunderstand and misrepresent his ideas. (Thomas Prufer of The Catholic University of America once likened grading exams to fever dreams, in which the day's events come back in garbled form.) Furthermore, in a letter to Marcus Herz dated August 28th, 1778, Kant claims that his metaphysics course presents particular difficulties for note-takers:

. . . Metaphysics is a course that I have worked up in the last few years in such a way that I fear that it must be difficult even for a discerning head to get precisely the right idea from somebody's lecture notes. Even though the idea seemed to me intelligible in the lecture, still, since it was taken down by a beginner and deviates greatly from my formal statement and from ordinary concepts, it will call for someone with a head as good as your own to present it systematically and understandably.

This problem is compounded by the fact that Kant's students varied widely in education and ability, and there tends to be an inverse relationship between the intelligence of a student and the amount of notes that he feels the need to take. As Kant puts it in a letter to Marcus Herz, dated October 20, 1778:

Those of my students who are most capable of grasping everything are just the ones who bother least to take explicit and verbatim notes; rather, they write down only the main points, which they can think over afterward. Those who are most thorough in note-taking are seldom capable of distinguishing the important from the unimportant. They pile a mass of misunderstood stuff over that which they may possibly have grasped correctly.

Thus the most extensive and detailed notes are likely the work of students who were the least likely to understand and thus the most likely to distort what they heard. Second, after the lectures, the original classroom notes were fleshed out from memory. This process involved filling in lacunae and inserting transitions and headings. But there was also ample opportunity for the note-taker to add his own examples and clarifications. All of the known sets of notes are such "fair copies." Third, the resulting fair copies were re-copied multiple times and sold on the market for lecture notes that evidently flourished at the university in Königsberg. Finally, the surviving copies were edited and re-edited for publication by a number of prominent Kant scholars.

At every step of the process, including the last, errors and falsifications could, and evidently did, creep in. These notes cannot, therefore, be taken as direct statements of Kant's ideas, and there would be little reason to read such Kant literature if Kant's original lecture manuscripts were extant. But there's the rub: the manuscripts are not extant, thus these hastily written, sloppily construed notes are our only access to Kant's courses on metaphysics, which he offered over a period of nearly forty years.

These problems are compounded by the fact that even Kant's own lecture manuscripts did not fully reflect his considered views. First, Kant did not regard his lectures as occasions to teach students his own philosophy?r anybody else's philosophy, for that matter?ut rather as occasions to teach students how to philosophize. Kant puts this point nicely in his 1765 work, "Magister Immanuel Kant's Announcement of the Program of his Lectures for the Winter Semester 1765?766": "The youth who has completed his school instruction has been accustomed to learn. He now thinks that he is going to learn philosophy. But that is impossible, for he ought now to learn to philosophize." As is evident from the notes on his courses, Kant thought the best way to teach the method of philosophizing was to set out different positions and play them off against one another dialectically, a method which requires that he speak in defense of positions he himself does not subscribe to before subjecting them to criticisms that he himself may not subscribe to either. This makes it very difficult to determine when Kant is speaking in propria persona. Second, Kant was forced to lecture from standard textbooks, thus ofttimes we cannot safely assume that a given idea is Kant's own considered view, for it may be merely a discussion of the textbook or an accommodation of his own views to the text in use. In short, even Kant's original lecture manuscripts were, at least to some extent, themselves works of secondary literature. In the case of the Swedenborg discussions, however, we are on safer ground, for there are no discussions of Swedenborg in the metaphysics textbook from which Kant lectured: the Metaphysica of Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (1714?762). We can, therefore, conclude that Kant referred to Swedenborg in what C. D. Broad refers to as Kant's more "unbuttoned" moments, allowing us more license to ascribe the views expressed at this time to Kant himself. The views which Kant actually expressed may, however, diverge considerably from what was written down by his auditors.

A third problem with these notes is that they often record only the sequence of topics covered by Kant, but do not indicate the kind of relationships that he established between them. For example, the simple juxtaposition of two names or two topics cannot tell us if Kant thought that they were more similar than different or more different than similar; it cannot tell us if Kant praised one at the expense of the other, praised both, or praised neither. One must, in short, be very careful in judging a person or topic by the company it keeps.

Granted that all these concerns are valid, however, the fact remains that these texts do exist, and it would be simply irresponsible if our hermeneutical scruples led us to ignore them altogether. Hermeneutical problems aside, these texts do prove one fact indisputably: Kant took Swedenborg seriously enough to make reference to his ideas in his lectures on metaphysics for a period of more than thirty years. I shall, therefore, examine them with the following caveats. First, while it is risky to treat any of these texts as accurate records of Kant's remarks on Swedenborg, nevertheless, whenever we find similar statements in different texts from different times, we can at least claim that they are more likely to report Kant's actual statements than statements which do not occur in more than one text. Second, while it is risky to draw any new conclusions about Kant's views of Swedenborg from these texts, it is less risky to use them to the extent to which their content coheres with Kant's actual writings on Swedenborg. This means that any statement in these texts that diverges from Kant's published views cannot be granted probative value. At best, therefore, these texts can only confirm what we already know.

On this point of method, I differ from such scholars as Carl du Prel, Alfred H. Stroh, and Gottlieb Florschütz, who have argued on the basis of the Lectures on Metaphysics that Kant's negative assessment of Swedenborg in Dreams was superseded by a more positive assessment. However, even though my method differs from that of these scholars, my conclusions are largely the same, for even though I do not grant any probative value to statements in the Lectures which diverge from Dreams, I do not accept the received view that Kant's judgment of Swedenborg in Dreams is wholly and unambiguously hostile. I can, therefore, grant probative value to the positive remarks about Swedenborg found in the Lectures.

2. Swedenborg on the Spiritual World

The purpose of this section is to provide the background necessary to appreciate the Swedenborgian nature of Kant's discussions of heaven, hell, and the spiritual world in the Lectures on Metaphysics.

Swedenborg makes the following claims about the spiritual world. The spiritual world consists of three realms: heaven, hell, and an intermediate realm that he calls the world of spirits. Heaven is populated by angels and hell by demons, all of whom are the departed spirits of rational beings who formerly inhabited Earth and other planets. The intermediate world of spirits is populated by both departed spirits and by the spirits of living, embodied beings. Every rational being holds a dual citizenship in both the material and the spiritual worlds. Each of us exists always-already in a relationship with a spiritual self, what we might call the "better angels" of our nature. This spiritual self is the soul, understood both as the animating principle of the body and as our moral personality. Since each of us already exists in the spiritual world, the departure of the soul to the spiritual world is not to be understood as a journey from one place to another. Rather, it is to be understood as a transformation of our mode of cognition from sensuous intuition, which shows us only the material world, to a spiritual form of cognition, which reveals to us the place we already occupy in the spiritual world.

Swedenborg holds that there are at least three main spiritual or pneumatic laws governing the spiritual world: divine love, divine wisdom, and "use." Swedenborg's conception of creation appears to be similar to that found in the Corpus Hermeticum and the Lurianic Cabbala, I.e., creation is a process whereby God comes by self-realization through the mediation of the created world, specifically through man, the crown of creation, who can ascend to and know God, thereby bringing God to completion. Divine love is the most primordial pneumatic law. It is the outward flow of creation, bringing the spiritual and material worlds into existence and implanting the erotic longing of the soul to return to its divine origin. Divine wisdom is the power that differentiates the whole into material and spiritual worlds, and the material and spiritual worlds into different realms, communities, or kingdoms. Each community in the spiritual world consists of spirits who have developed similar "loves"?imilar hierarchies of value, similar moral characters or temperaments?uring their embodied existence. Newly arrived spirits gravitate naturally to communities of similar spirits, evil spirits gravitating toward hell, good spirits toward heaven, and morally indeterminate spirits to communities in the intermediate world of spirits. The reason that the spiritual world is organized into different communities is to provide opportunities for spiritual growth and perfection, measured by the spirit's proximity to, knowledge of, and love for God. The highest end of divine love and divine wisdom is the highest of these spiritual communities: the heavenly community or community of angels, which consists of the freely self-perfected spirits of human beings and of the rational inhabitants of other planets. It is through the ascension of rational beings into the community of angels that God achieves self-realization.

Swedenborg calls the spiritual world a kingdom of ends and a kingdom of uses: "Universum regnum domini est regnum finium et usuum" ("The universal kingdom of God is a kingdom of ends and uses".) Swedenborg's concepts of ends and uses are highly equivocal, and it is hard to discern their central or focal senses. I have offered a reconstruction of this doctrine elsewhere. Thus, for our purposes here, let it suffice to say that to say that the spiritual world (and, more specifically, the heavenly community) is a kingdom of ends is to say that it is composed of spiritual beings, the communal existence of which brings about the final cause of creation, the self-realization of God. To say that the spiritual world is a kingdom of uses is to say that spiritual beings are drawn together into a kingdom and offered avenues to freely chosen spiritual perfection through taking up different vocations and engaging in charitable interactions.

Finally, Swedenborg claims that the spiritual world exists outside of space and time. Space and time exist only in the sensible world. Spiritual beings are not related to one another spatially or temporally. They exist in intelligible relationships of representations and correspondences. Thus Swedenborg's spiritual world can be spoken of as an intelligible or noumenal world, as opposed to the sensible or phenomenal world.

3. Some Excerpts from Dreams of a Spirit-Seer

Kant's main published account of Swedenborg's spiritual world is Dreams of a Spirit-Seer. Dreams contains two accounts of Swedenborg's spiritual world. The first, in Dreams, Part I, chapter 2, "A Fragment of Occult Philosophy to Reveal Community with the Spirit World," presents a philosophical reconstruction of Swedenborg's account of the spiritual world as the independent discovery of Kant's own authorial persona. The second account, in Dreams, Part II, chapter 2, "Ecstatic Journey of an Enthusiast [Schwärmer] Through the Spirit World," presents Swedenborg's visions as recounted in Arcana Coelestia. The following passages from the latter discussion bear interesting resemblances to the passages from the Lectures on Metaphysics translated below.

All men, according to his [Swedenborg's] assertion, stand in an equally intimate union with the spirit world; only they do not sense it, and the difference between him and other people consists simply in that his innermost soul is opened up, a gift he always speaks of with reverence. Nevertheless, each human soul already in this life has its position in the spirit world, and belongs to a certain society, which at all times is consonant with its inner state of truth and goodness, I.e., of understanding and will. But the positions of the spirits relative to one another have nothing in common with the space of the corporeal world; thus the soul of a human being in India may, as far as spiritual positions are concerned, be the closest neighbor of another in Europe, and in contrast to this, those who according to the body live in the same house, could be very far apart according to these [spiritual] relations. If a human being dies, then the soul does not change its position, but rather only senses itself in the same [position], in which, in respect of other spirits, it was already in this life.

Moreover, the enormous distance between the rational inhabitants of the world, is, with respect to the spiritual universe [das geistige Weltganze], to be regarded as nothing, and it is just as easy to converse with an inhabitant of Saturn as it is to speak to a departed human soul. Everything depends upon the relationship of the inner state and on the connection they have with one another with respect to the concord of truth and goodness; but the more distant spirits can just as easily enter into community through the mediation of others. Thus the human being also does not need to have actually lived on the other worlds [Weltkörpern] in order someday to know them with all their wonders. His soul reads in the memories of other departed citizens of the world [Weltbürger] their representations which they have of their life and dwelling places, and sees therein the objects just as well as through immediate intuition.

4. The Metaphysik Herder and Nachträge Herder

The earliest notes on Kant's Lectures on Metaphysics are the Metaphysik Herder and the Nachträge Herder. Named for Johann Gottfried Herder (1744?803), these texts are actually two versions of the same original. They are student notes from one of Kant's lecture courses on metaphysics dated roughly to the years 1762?4, the years Herder spent as a student at the Herzog Albrecht University. I can, however, venture a more precise dating based upon the references to Swedenborg. Both the Metaphysik Herder and the Nachträge Herder refer to Swedenborg's most famous psychic feats: the queen's secret and the Stockholm fire affairs as Kant recounted them in his letter to Charlotte von Knobloch of August 10, 1763. The Herder texts also, however, refer to Swedenborg's written accounts of supersensible cognition in Arcana Coelestia. The letter to von Knobloch was, however, written before Kant had received Swedenborg's writings. Indeed, in it Kant speaks of his arrangements to get copies of Swedenborg's writings in the near future. Since the letter is dated August 10, 1763, we know that Kant received his copies of Swedenborg's writings, and therefore could have made reference to them in his lectures, only after that date. Since Herder left Königsberg for Riga in November 1764, we can infer that the lectures in question were given sometime between August 1763 and November 1764, that is, during the winter semester of 1763-64 or the summer semester of 1764.

The texts of both the Metaphysik Herder and the Nachträge Herder are virtually identical. Both, however, are extremely rough and fragmentary. Furthermore, the texts require a great deal of editorial work to constitute a usable critical edition. I have, therefore, translated the absolute minimum, isolating the discussion of Swedenborg in the Metaphysik Herder from its larger context.

In the Herder lectures, Swedenborg is first discussed in the unit on "Rational Psychology" under the general heading "statu post mortem" and under the particular question, "Can departed souls have community with human beings?" Swedenborg is ushered into the discussion in the company of Plato and Apollonius of Tyana (who is also mentioned in Dreams) as one who holds that certain special individuals possess "wider spheres of sensations" that allow them to communicate with spirits, subtle bodies, and supersensible entities.

Schwedenberg perhaps genuine visionary [wirklich Phantast], but not at all to be sneezed at [nichts alles zu verachten], because certainly such broader sensations are bound quite close to bodies and border on visions [Phantasma]. The representation [Vorstellung] is quite fine and light, can what is mixed up with it?hich is dismissed as unseemly, must have insight into the impossibility and this only is certain, while the soul is not at all?ut is it, this one must investigate: not to dismiss arrogantly, as long as a single case is possibly genuine [wirklich], but also not foolish belief [dumm glauben] ?ueen. Testimonies on Schwedenberg, that he with a dead prince etc. In Gothenberg he saw the fire in Stockholm. He boldly speaks nonsensically, de statu post mortem [on the state after death], ex auditis et visis [from things seen and heard], saw clothing, food?perhaps he saw much, but the influence of the body made him imagine the rest [bildet ihm das übrige ein]. One can also perhaps keep the rest, not pour all of it out: just as to purify partially false observations and more easily [leichter] discover the ground of error. The small knowledge of the soul prevents [verhindert] insight into impossibility (in deep sleep) thus to grant possibility: the soul is known only through union with the body, not outside of the same. Thus generated [erzeugte] sensation, mixed with imagination?ll dismiss, must deny soul or state after death?hantoms [Gespenster] have fooled us 99 times out of 100. Thus one inclines not to believe the probability of the majority of cases: but do not dismiss all of them summarily [kurz]! Do not call liar, but rather non liquet [not proved]!

In the Nachträge Herder, the last two sentences read as follows:

but do not dismiss all credible: e.g., soldier saw the hanging which happened in Saxony. In short [Kurz]! Do not call liar, but rather non liquet!

Swedenborg is introduced as a "perhaps genuine visionary" whose accounts of the spiritual world are "not at all to be sneezed at" and "not to be dismissed arrogantly." Swedenborg's "representation" [Vorstellung] is praised as "quite fine and light" [sehr fein und leicht]. Kant does grant that there are elements of Swedenborg's visions that may properly be "dismissed as unseemly" [ungehört verwirft]. Kant also grants that Swedenborg at times "boldly speaks nonsensically" [redet ungereimt dreist] regarding things seen and heard in the spiritual world. But he is careful to stress that one cannot dismiss the whole of Swedenborg on the basis of a few flawed parts. He claims, for instance, that even if Swedenborg imagined some of the things he claimed to see, it is possible that he really did see many of the things he claimed to see. Since reason has no insight into what is possible or impossible for the soul to achieve, we are not entitled to dismiss Swedenborg's claims a priori. We must, therefore, investigate them carefully, trying to separate truth from fiction. In these investigations, we must strive to be open-minded, avoiding the extremes of both arrogant dismissiveness and foolish credulity [dumm glauben]. Kant mentions the queen's secret and Stockholm fire affairs, as well as Swedenborg's written accounts "ex auditis et visis" of the spiritual world, including the "statu post mortem" and "Kleider, Speisen" ?lothing and food?urely a reference to one of the strangest aspects of Swedenborg's accounts of the spiritual world: his inclusion of innumerable earthy little details of the spirits' clothing and food, details which prompted William Butler Yeats to remark that he liked Swedenborg because Swedenborg tells us that the angels don't use butter. Although 99 times out of 100 we are deceived by phantoms, we cannot prove that genuine visions are impossible. We cannot, therefore, declare all spirit-seers liars. We can only declare their claims non liquet, not proved.

Swedenborg is also mentioned in both Herder texts a few pages later, at the conclusion of the lectures on "Rational Psychology" and just before the beginning of the section on "Natural Theology." Here Swedenborg is mentioned in connection with the various kinds of delusion [Verrücktheit] often associated with visionaries, but even in this context the blow is softened. I quote from the Nachträge Herder, in which this passage is less garbled than in the Metaphysik Herder:

People with greater genius have a kind of derangement [Wahnsinn]: perhaps even because:?ither one therefore holds all spirits as delusion or does not reject all wholesale:?.g., also that from Schwedenborg?hose sensations indeed on the whole could be true, but are in part never certain: and such a concept remains quite weighty.

Swedenborg is introduced in the company of men of "greater genius." Some such men have a kind of "Wahnsinn" [derangement] which in Kant's "Essay on the Sicknesses of the Head" (1764) and Anthropology in Pragmatic Perspective (1798) is described as the propensity of some minds that are otherwise normal?.e., that operate in accordance with logic and the categories of possible experience?o take self-created ideas as perceptions of external objects. It is not clear from the notes whether Kant thinks that genius may be caused by such derangement, or that such derangement may be caused by genius. It is clear, however, that in Dreams, Part I, ch. 2, this "deranged" propensity is consistent with genuine visionary powers. In Dreams, Kant claims that it is possible to have genuine awareness of spiritual entities. This awareness would, however, have to be symbolic in nature. Spirits, in order to make themselves known to beings who depend upon the evidence of the senses, would have to take on sensible forms which could reveal the underlying spiritual reality only symbolically. Kant then speculates that some visionaries mistake these internal symbolic cognitions for the sensible cognition of external objects. But beneath the deranged projection may be genuine visionary powers. In the passage in question from the Nachträge Herder, Kant rejects the wholesale dismissal of spiritualist claims precisely because of Swedenborg, whose sensations of the spiritual world could, on the whole, be true and are uncertain only in part. Kant concludes the entire section on rational psychology by saying that, in spite of the doubts and criticisms that hover around it, the concept of community with departed spirits "remains quite weighty."

Robert E. Butts characterizes the references to Swedenborg in the Herder materials quite misleadingly, saying only that Swedenborg "is listed among the phantasts and seers." From both passages it is clear, however, that Kant takes Swedenborg much more seriously than he does other visionaries. By this, I mean that Kant regarded Swedenborg's claims as serious candidates for truth. Thus Kant is careful to caution his students against the arrogant and wholesale dismissal of paranormal claims, which is as much an error as foolish credulity.

It is especially noteworthy that Kant took this tone after he had read Arcana Coelestia, for one of the central puzzles of the Kant-Swedenborg relationship is the radical shift in Kant's tone between the letter to Charlotte von Knobloch of August 10, 1763, in which Kant expresses emphatic belief in the genuineness of Swedenborg's psychic powers, and Dreams of a Spirit-Seer, which was completed in the fall of 1765. One tempting explanation for this shift is to claim that Kant's mind was changed by the arrival of his volumes of Arcana Coelestia some time after he wrote his letter to Charlotte von Knobloch. While it is impossible to believe that a work like Arcana Coelestia could have made no impression on Kant whatsoever?nd while the Herder materials do reveal some skepticism on Kant's part to some of the claims made in the Arcana ?hese materials also show that Kant still took Swedenborg seriously even after having read the Arcana.

5. Metaphysik L1

The most extensive and readable set of notes from Kant's lectures on metaphysics is Metaphysik L1, an edition by Karl Heinrich Ludwig Pölitz (1772?838) of notes on one of Kant's lecture courses from the 1770s, Kant's so-called "silent decade." Metaphysik L1 was first published by Pölitz in 1821 as Kants Vorlesungen über Metaphysik. In these texts, the silent Kant speaks at length about the human being's dual citizenship in the natural and spiritual worlds, the position held by Swedenborg and ventured by Kant as his own hypothesis in Dreams. Kant's account of Swedenborg is for the most part both accurate and flattering. The entire passage follows, in my translation. I have numbered the paragraphs for ease of reference. Boldface numbers within paragraphs mark the page breaks in the Akademie edition.

[1] But now if the soul is conscious of itself, then the question is: Is it conscious of itself as a pure spirit, or bound up with an organic body? Of this, we can say nothing certain. One has two opinions on this:

(1) One can think of either a restitution of animal life, which can be either of an earthly or an unearthly kind. According to the earthly kind, my soul must take on this or another body; according to the unearthly kind, which would be a passage from this to another animal life, the soul must take on a transfigured body. Or one can also

(2) think of a totally pure spiritual life, where the soul will not have any body at all.

[2] This last opinion is the most suitable for philosophy. For if the body is a hindrance to life, but the future [life] is supposed to be perfect, then it must be fully spiritual. But now if we assume a fully spiritual life, then one can here [297] ask again: Where is heaven? Where is hell? And to which place are we destined in the future? [Und welches is unser künftiger Bestimmungsort?] The separation of the soul and the body is not to be supposed a change of place. The presence of the spirit cannot be explained locally. For if it is explained locally, then, when the human being is dead, I can ask: does the soul still reside for a while in the body? Or: does it leave at once? Is it then in the room or in the house? And how long might it take on its journey, be it to heaven or to hell? Or where else is it? But all these questions fall by the way if one does not take and explain the presence of the soul locally. Places are only relationships of corporeal but not of spiritual things. Accordingly, the soul, because it occupies no place, is not to be seen in the whole corporeal world; it has no determinate place in the corporeal world, but rather it is in the spirit world; it stands in union [Verbindung] and relation with other spirits. Now if these spirits are right-thinking [wohldenkende] and holy beings, and the soul is in their community, then it is in heaven. But if the community of spirits in which it finds itself is of the evil kind, then the soul is in hell. Heaven is thus everywhere where such a community of holy spiritual beings is; but it is nowhere, because it takes up no place in the world, in that the community is not set up in the corporeal world. Accordingly, heaven will not be the unmeasurable space occupied by the heavenly bodies and which shows itself in blue color, to which one must travel through the air if one wants to go there; rather, the spirit world is heaven; and to stand in relation and community with the spirit world means: to be in heaven. Accordingly, if the soul has been evil, it will not go to hell; rather it will merely see itself in the society of evil spirits, and that means: to be in hell.

[3] We have a knowledge of the corporeal world though sensuous intuition, insofar as it appears to us; our consciousness is bound to animal intuition; the present world is the interaction of all objects [Gegenstände] so far as they are intuited through present sensuous intuition. But if the soul separates itself from the body, then it will not have the same sensuous intuition of this world; it will not intuit the world as it appears, but rather as it is. Accordingly, the separation of the soul and the body consists in the transformation of sensuous intuition into spiritual intuition; and that is the other [298] world. The other world is, then, not another place, but only another intuition. The other world remains the same with respect to its objects; it is not different with respect to the substances, only it is spiritually intuited. Those who imagine the other world as if it were a new place which is separate from this one, and into which one must first be transferred if one wishes to arrive there; then they must also take the separation of the soul locally and explain its presence locally. Then its presence would rest on corporeal conditions, such as contact, extension in space, etc.; but then many questions would also occur, and one would lapse into materialism. But since the presence of the soul is spiritual, the separation must likewise consist not in the departure of the soul from the body and in the arrival in the other world; rather, since the soul has a sensuous intuition of the corporeal world [Körperwelt] through the body [Körper]; then it will, when it is freed from the sensuous intuition of the body, have a spiritual intuition, and that is the other world. ?[When] one comes into the other world, then one comes not into the community of other things, perchance to other planets; for I am already in union with them now, although only in a distant way; rather one remains in this world, but has a spiritual intuition of everything. Thus the other world is not to be distinguished from this one with respect to place; the concept of place cannot be used here at all. Accordingly, the state of blessedness [Seligkeit (sic)], or heaven, and the state of misery [Elendes], or hell, which all comprise the other world, also must not be sought in this sensible world at all; rather, if I have been righteous here, and after death receive a spiritual intuition of everything, and step into the community of just such righteous beings, then I am in heaven. But if, according to my conduct, I receive a spiritual intuition of such beings whose will clashes with every rule of morality, and if I fall into such community, then I am in hell. Granted, this opinion of the other world cannot be demonstrated, but rather it is a necessary hypothesis of reason, which can be opposed to opponents.

[4] The thought of Swedenborg on this matter is quite sublime [sehr erhaben]. He says: the spirit world composes a special real universe; this is the Intelligible World [mundus intelligibilis], from which this Sensible World [mundo sensibili] must [299] be distinguished. He says: All spiritual natures stand in union with one another; but this community [Gemeinschaft] and union is not bound up with the body as a condition; there one spirit is not near to or distant from another, but is in a spiritual union. Our souls now stand with one another as spirits in this union and community, and indeed already in this world; we do not now see ourselves in this community while we still have a sensuous [form of] intuition; but even if we do not see it, we do in fact stand in it. Now, once the hindrance of sensuous intuition is cancelled [aufgehoben], we see ourselves in this spiritual community, and this is the other world; now this consists not of other things, but of the same things, which, however, we intuit in another way. Now when a man has been righteous in this world, and his will has been well-meaning and strives to carry out the rules of morality, he is already in this world in community with all righteous and well-meaning souls, be they in India or Arabia; only he does not yet see himself in this community, until he is freed from sensuous intuition. In the same way the evil [person] is already here in community with all evil-doers, who loathe one another; he does not now see himself therein. But when he is freed of sensuous intuition, then he will see himself there. Accordingly, each good deed of the virtuous is a step toward the community of the blessed, just as each evil deed is a step toward the community of the depraved [Lasterhaften]. It follows that the virtuous person does not go to heaven, but is already in it here and now; but [only] after death will he first see himself to be in this community. In the same way, the evil cannot see themselves to be in hell, although they are really already there. But when they are freed from their bodies, then they first see where they are. Terrifying thoughts for the evil-doer! Must he not fear at every moment that his spiritual eyes will be opened? And as soon as they are open he is already in hell.

[5] I do not see at all how the body should be necessary for this spiritual intuition. Why should the soul still be surrounded by this dust when once it is freed? This is all that we can say here in order to purify the concept of the spiritual nature of the soul, of its separation from the body, [and] of the future world, which consists of heaven and hell. [300]

[6] In conclusion, psychology should deal with spirits in general; but of that we cannot grasp any more through reason than that such spirits are possible.

[7] Only one question still remains: Whether the soul, which is already spiritual in the other world, can be seen and can appear in the visible world through visible effects? This is not possible; because only matter can be sensuously intuited, and falls under the outer senses, but not a spirit. Or can I not intuit here the community of departed souls with my soul, which is not yet departed, but to some extent stands as a spirit in their community? For example as Swedenborg would? This is contradictory; for in that case the spiritual intuition must already begin in this world. But in this world, I still have a sensuous intuition; thus I cannot simultaneously have a spiritual intuition. I cannot simultaneously be in this and also in that world; for when I have a sensuous intuition, then I am in this [world] and when I have a spiritual intuition, so I am in the other world; these cannot take place together. But granted it were possible, that the soul can appear in this world, or that such spiritual intuition were already possible here; because we cannot, however, prove the impossibility of it, then here the principle of sound reason [gesunden Vernunft] must be contraposed. This principle of sound reason is just this: not to accept but to dismiss all such experiences and manifestations, that, if I were to accept them, would make the use of my reason impossible, and revoke the only conditions under which I believe I can make use of my reason. Were these to be accepted, then the use of reason in this world would end; then many dealings with spirits could take place. However, this matter requires no closer consideration than what one already sees from experience: that when a wrongdoer pushes the guilt for his actions on an evil spirit who supposedly led him astray, the judge gives this excuse no weight. For otherwise, he could not really punish such a man.

[8] In general, we advance that it is totally unsuitable for us here to worry too much about our destiny in the future world; on the contrary, we must complete the circle to which we are destined here, and wait for how it is to be in the future world. [301] The chief matter is: that we remain righteous and morally good in this post and wish to make ourselves worthy of future happiness. In the same way, it would be nonsensical when one occupies the humblest post in military service to worry oneself about the affairs of the colonel or general. There is time for that once one has arrived.

[9] Providence has closed off the future world to us, and has allowed us only a little hope, which is ample enough to move us to make ourselves worthy of it [e.g., the future world], which we would not be so eager to do, if we already knew the future world precisely.

[10] The chief matter [Hauptsache] is always morality: this is the holy and sacrosanct [Heilige und Unverletztliche], what we must protect, and this is also the ground and purpose of all our speculations and investigations. All metaphysical speculations aim at it. God and the other world are the only aim of all our philosophical investigations, and if the concepts of God and the other world do not hang together with morality, they would not be useful.

Paragraph one raises the question of the kind of existence enjoyed by souls after death, namely, whether it is a bodily existence or a pure spiritual existence. The latter opinion is declared the more philosophical. Then paragraphs two through four describe pure spiritual existence in terms of an accurate and sympathetic sketch of Swedenborg's vision of the spiritual world. In content, the passage is very similar to parts of Kant's descriptions of Swedenborg's spiritual world in Dreams. For instance, in paragraphs two and three, as in Dreams, Kant describes the passage to the spiritual world not as a change of place, but as a change from a sensuous to a spiritual form of intuition of the same place. In paragraph three, as in Dreams, Kant speaks of our union with the inhabitants of other planets through the medium of the spiritual world. In paragraph four, as in Dreams, Kant claims that through the medium of the spiritual world, a European might be in closer spiritual union with an inhabitant of India than with his next-door neighbor. In paragraphs two though four, as in Dreams, the spiritual world is described as consisting of a number of different communities of good or evil spirits in which we enroll ourselves through our thoughts and actions during our earthly existence, and in which we always-already find ourselves when our spiritual eyes are opened after death. In tone, however, the passages are quite different. Whereas in Dreams, Kant's description is mocking and sarcastic, in Metaphysik L1 Kant refers to Swedenborg's image of the spiritual world in positive terms only, claiming that it is "quite sublime" [sehr erhaben].

In the same paragraphs, the following philosophical equations are established: the afterlife = the Swedenborgian spiritual world = heaven and hell = the intelligible world [mundus intelligibilis], as opposed to the sensible world [mundo sensibili]. The identification of the spiritual world with the intelligible world is particularly important, for the distinction between the sensible and intelligible worlds is central to Kant's Inaugural Dissertation of 1770, De mundi sensibilis atque intelligibilis formas et principiis [On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible World]. In the Critique of Pure Reason (1781), this distinction reappears as the crucial distinction between the phenomenal and noumenal worlds, the world of things as appearances and the world of things as they are in themselves. In paragraph five, Kant agrees with Swedenborg that the spiritual mode of intuition does not require the body. In paragraph six, Kant sounds a more characteristically Kantian theme: that rational psychology deals with spirits in general, but that unaided reason cannot grasp any more about such spirits than the fact that they are possible. To grasp that they are actual would require some form of experience. In paragraph seven, Kant turns his attention to the kind of experience that would allow us to conclude that spirits are actual: their appearance in the visible world through visible effects. Kant claims that, "This is not possible; because only matter can be sensuously intuited, and falls under the outer senses, but not a spirit." Kant then raises the question, "Can I not intuit here the community of departed souls with my soul, which is not yet departed, but to some extent stands as a spirit in their community? For example as Swedenborg would?" Kant's answer is that "this is contradictory," for an embodied being cannot intuit spiritual realities; he can intuit only sensible realities.

The natural construal of this passage is that Swedenborg claims that embodied beings can intuit spiritual realities, but that Kant disagrees with him. Natural as this reading is, however, it must be resisted, for it contradicts both Swedenborg's texts and the text of Dreams. Swedenborg denies the possibility of intuiting spiritual realities while embodied. Instead, Swedenborg claims that spiritual beings appear to us by directly affecting our minds, creating visions of sensuous realities which are only symbolically related to underlying spiritual realities; the inner spiritual meaning of these visions must then be recovered by an act of interpretation. Moreover, in Dreams, Kant correctly represents Swedenborg's position. Unless we are to conclude that Kant simply forgot his earlier accurate representation of Swedenborg's views, then it is likely that at this point the text of Metaphysik L1 does not accurately reflect Kant's statements. Indeed, Kant may not have critiqued Swedenborg, but used Swedenborg to critique a less sophisticated position.

Kant then goes on to offer a more "Kantian" argument against the physical apparition of spirits. Although Kant has just argued that these apparitions are impossible, he now grants that their impossibility cannot be proven, but argues that even though they cannot be disproven, they cannot be allowed by the principle of "gesunden Vernunft," which prohibits the acceptance of any belief that would make the exercise of reason impossible by allowing arbitrary and unverifiable appeals to spiritual apparitions. This argument, it should be noted, applies just as well to Swedenborg's more sophisticated account of spiritual apparitions. It should be noted, however, that this argument is practical, even political in nature and carries no apodictic weight. For it may be the case that rationally unverifiable and politically dangerous revelations may be nonetheless be quite genuine.

Paragraphs eight, nine, and ten conclude the discussion on a typically "Kantian" note. Having criticized, albeit weakly, the possibility of theoretical knowledge of spirits, Kant then denies the ultimate importance of this knowledge. The Hauptsache is not to gain knowledge of the next world, but to be good in this world. Ours is not to question the whys of providence, but to do or die in the roles it allots us. Providence has closed off knowledge of an afterlife because such knowledge would inevitably be accompanied by moral complacency. Providence has, however, left us with some hope for the afterlife, for without hope we would lapse into passivity and despair. The moral necessity of hope, however, offers us a non-speculative ground for resuscitating a non-theoretical kind of belief in a spiritual world, a belief which Kant elsewhere calls "moral faith" [moralische Glaube]. Kant denies theoretical knowledge of a spiritual world because it is not morally useful; in denying the possibility of theoretical knowledge of a spiritual world he also, however, denies the possibility of any theoretical proof of the unreality of the spiritual world. This theoretical agnosticism thus clears the ground for moral or practical belief in a spiritual world, insofar as such belief coheres with the needs of morality. With paragraph ten, the notes on the rational psychology unit come to an end.

The striking contrast in tone between Metaphysik L1 and Dreams has fanned revisionist speculations for years. In 1889 a student of the occult and the author of learned discourses on somnambulism and extraterrestrial life, Dr. Karl Ludwig August Friedrich Maximilian Alfred Freiherr du Prel (1839?9), better known as Carl du Prel, extracted the section of Pölitz's edition on rational psychology and published it as Immanuel Kants Vorlesungen über Psychologie, to which he appended an introductory essay "Kants mystische Weltanschauung." Du Prel is careful not to ignore or gloss over many of Kant's negative remarks about mysticism. Indeed, du Prel himself accepts some of them. Be that as it may, though, du Prel argues that Kant's treatment of Swedenborg in particular and spiritual matters in general nonetheless constitutes a mystical worldview. He is especially concerned to revise the received view of Dreams in light of Metaphysik L1:

Through Kant's Lectures on Psychology, his Dreams of a Spirit-Seer is placed in an altogether new light. One might suppose that this work was so clearly written that an erroneous interpretation of it would be an impossibility, but the aversion of our century to mystic thinking has brought about a misconception of Dreams. It has been construed as a daring venture of Kant's genius in making fun of superstition; the accent has been laid on Kant's negations, and his affirmative statements have been overlooked. The Lectures on Psychology now show, however, that these utterances were very seriously intended; for the affirmative portions of the Dreams agree very thoroughly with the lengthier exposition of the Psychology, and the wavering attitude of Kant is here no longer perceptible.

On du Prel's view, then, the schizophrenic tone of Dreams reflects Kant's confusions and ambivalence regarding Swedenborg, while the uniformly positive tone of Metaphysik L1 reflects Kant's final, mature, and considered position? Position upon which Swedenborg had a strong positive influence.

Hans Vaihinger, the distinguished Kant scholar and founder of Kant-Studien, reviewed du Prel's edition of Kant's lectures in the Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie. Although Vaihinger ultimately pronounced du Prel's connections between Kant and Swedenborg exaggerated, he cautioned against falling "into the other error of denying altogether a positive relation of Kant to Swedenborg which shows itself occasionally even in his critical period." Vaihinger followed this advice throughout his monumental Commentar zu Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft, where he argues in a number of places for a positive Swedenborgian influence on Kant, and it is clear that Metaphysik L1 played a major role in opening Vaihinger's mind to such comparisons.

C. D. Broad, a distinguished Kant scholar and a serious advocate of psychical research, draws a sensibly cautious conclusion from his reading of Metaphysik L1:

Kant, in his more "unbuttoned" moments, took a not unfavorable view of certain features in Swedenborg's doctrines which are compatible with (though they go beyond) his own account of the "empirical" and the "noumenal" self in the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of Practical Reason. His private opinion may have been that something like this part of Swedenborg's doctrine may well be true, or at any rate that it may be the nearest approximation to the truth which is conceivable to us here and now and expressible in our language. But in his published contributions to philosophy he was not prepared to commit himself, even by implication, to anything beyond what he thought to be capable in principle of being proved.

By contrast, both Robert E. Butts and Alison Laywine, who are hostile to the idea of a positive Swedenborgian influence on Kant, give a deflationary accounts of the Lectures on Metaphysics. In Butts's view,

These . . . Lecture sources reveal only that Kant fairly regularly referred to Swedenborg as holding a special view that accommodated a real status for the soul after death (because there is in fact no death). However, all of the notes give ample evidence that Kant suggested and investigated quite a large number of theories of survival of the soul . . .

Butts claims, correctly, that Kant discussed many different accounts of the nature of the soul. Butts then seems to argue that since Kant could not have agreed with all of these accounts, it is arbitrary to assert that he agreed with Swedenborg's. As I will show, however, there are several passages in which Kant very clearly indicates a preference for Swedenborg's accounts over others.

Laywine argues that Kant's apparent sympathy to Swedenborg in Metaphysik L1 is not based on a positive assessment of the metaphysical truth of Swedenborg's spiritual world, but rather on its moral usefulness:

We must consider in what sense Kant might reasonably say of Swedenborg's ideas that they are "very sublime." From the context, it seems that Kant is interpreting Swedenborg allegorically; talk of heaven and the life hereafter is useful, he says, as a way to describe the moral condition of the soul and as a way to give us an ideal of moral perfection towards which we must always strive. . . . Only in terms of morality do our concepts of God and the other world make sense. Because morality is sublime, so are these concepts, and so too the ideas of Swedenborg.

All this is true, so far as it goes. What I dispute first of all is the deflationary spin that Laywine gives it. To say that Swedenborg's spiritual world is morally elevating is not, indeed, to say that it is metaphysically real. But since Kant regards morality as the Hauptsache, as the Heilige und Unverletztliche, to say that Swedenborg's spiritual world is morally uplifting is not to say that it is "merely" morally uplifting, for Kant regards our relationship to the morally ideal as ultimately more important than any knowledge of the metaphysically real. Second, Laywine seems to assume that Kant encountered Swedenborg only after he had fully thought out his moral philosophy, and that Kant praised Swedenborg solely because his thought cohered nicely with a moral system that was already in place.

Kant, however, first encountered Swedenborg at a time when his moral philosophy was undergoing rapid transformation, and in two other essays, I take pains to prove that Swedenborg's image of the spiritual world exercised a major positive influence on the development of Kant's mature moral philosophy and that Swedenborg's spiritual world is the model of Kant's Kingdom of Ends. Indeed, I would argue that, just as the mature Kant abandoned metaphysical grounds for defending his prior convictions regarding God, freedom, and immortality in favor of moral or practical grounds, in Dreams of a Spirit-Seer he abandons metaphysical grounds for defending his prior belief in a spiritual world in favor of moral grounds. I would, moreover, argue that Kant first elaborates this strategy precisely in order to preserve rational grounds for belief in a Swedenborgian spiritual world in the face of Enlightenment skepticism. Swedenborg's spiritual world is not, in short, merely a useful illustration of Kant's mature moral theory. It is one of the private convictions which Kant sought to articulate, preserve, and defend in developing that theory in the first place.

[This article will be concluded in the next issue of Studia Swedenborgiana]