Rational Psychology #0

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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I. Sensation or the Passion of the Body 2

II. Touch 35

III. Taste 39

IV. Smell 43

V. Hearing 49

VI. Sight 68

VII. Perception, Imagination, Memory, and their Ideas 91

VIII. The Pure Intellect 123

IX. The Human Intellect: Intellection, Thought, Reasoning, and Judgment 140

X. The Commerce of Soul and Body 159

XI. Harmonies and the Affections Arising Therefrom, Desires in General 175

XII. The Animus and its Affections 197

- Gladness 201

- Sadness 202

- Loves in General 203

XIII. The Animus and the Rational Mind 282

XIV. The Formation and Affections of the Rational Mind 298

XV. The Loves and Affections of the Mind 315

XVI. Conclusion as to what the Animus is, what the Spiritual Mind, and what the Rational Mind 340

XVII. Free Decision, of the Choice of Moral Good and Evil 351

XVIII. The Will and its Liberty, and what the Intellect is in Relation thereto 378

XIX. Discourse 401

XX. Human Prudence 405

XXI. Simulation and Dissimulation 408

XXII. Cunning and Malice 412

XXIII. Sincerity 414

XXIV. Justice and Equity 415

XXV. Science, Intelligence, Wisdom 419

XXVI. The Cause which Change the State of the Intellect and Rational Mind, that is, Pervert or Perfect it 422

XXVII. Loves of the Soul or Spiritual Loves 429

- The Love of Being Above Oneself 432

- The Love of a Comrade as Oneself 434

- Loving Society as Being Many Selves 438

- The Love of Being Close to the One Loved 440

- The Love of Surpassing in Felicity, Power, and Wisdom 442

- The Love of Propagating Heavenly Society by Natural Means 447

- The Love of One's Body 449

- The Love of Immortality 451

- Spiritual Zeal 453

- The Love of Propagating the Kingdom and City of God 455

XXVIII. The Derivation of Corporeal Loves from Spiritual, and their Concentration in the Rational Mind 457

XXIX. Pure or Divine Love Regarded in Itself 460

XXX. The Influx of the Animus and its Affections into the Body, and of the Body into the Animus 462

XXXI. The Influx of the Rational Mind into the Animus, and by the Animus into the Body; and the Influx of the Animus into the Rational Mind 470

XXXII. The Influx of the Spiritual Mind or Soul into the Animus, and of the Animus into the Spiritual Mind 473

XXXIII. The Influx of the Spiritual Loves of the Soul into the Rational Mind, and the Reverse 476

XXXIV. [Inherited Characteristics] 477

- Inclination 477

- Temperaments 482

XXXV. Death 486

XXXVI. The Immortality of the Soul 498

XXXVII. The State of the Soul after the Death of the Body 511

XXXVIII. Heaven or the Society of Happy Souls 533

XXXIX. Hell, or the Society of Unhappy Souls 543

XL. Divine Providence 549

XLI. Fate, Fortune, Predestination, Human Prudence [title only] 561

XLII. A Universal Mathesis 562


In his work up to the 1730s, Emanuel Swedenborg devotes himself largely to technology and the physical sciences. However, in "The Infinite and the Final Cause of Creation", published in 1734, he expresses his concern that ignorance of the nature of the soul, and of its connection with the body, is leading to doubt and denial. He therefore undertakes to demonstrate what the soul is and how it operates into the body. The 1734 work itself is intended only as a forerunner to the project, and he speaks of the larger work which is to follow.

Swedenborg does not publish anything more until 1740, engaging in the intervening years in anatomical and psychological studies. As to the latter, we know that he possessed and studied two works of Christian Wolff: "Psychologia Empirica" (1732) and "Psychologia Rationalis" (1734). The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that Wolff is the first to use the term "psychologia" in the modern sense. Swedenborg's manuscript notes on Wolff's "Psychologia Empirica" have been published as "Psychologica" (Swedenborg Scientific Association, 1923). He draws on Wolff's "Psychologia Rationalis" in his short posthumously published work "The Soul, and the Harmony between Soul and Body", the first of his "psychological transactions."

Swedenborg himself never wrote anything entitled "Empirical Psychology," but as to rational psychology, in addition to the present posthumous work, he also included in a published work, "Oeconomia Regnum Animale", a chapter entitled "An Introduction to Rational Psychology." The concept of rational psychology at the time this work was written was that of a speculative and metaphysical treatment of the human soul, its faculties and its immortality in contrast to a descriptive, empirical psychology.

In the course of this work, we see indications of the new direction that Swedenborg's thought is beginning to take, going beyond his efforts to find anatomical evidence for the soul, to the concept of a correspondence between the mental and the physical. The final chapter, on a "Universal Mathesis," ends with a promise of further exploration of "A Key to Natural and Spiritual Arcana by way of Correspondences and Representations."

Hugo Odhner (formerly Professor of Theology at the Academy of the New Church) regarded the present work as the clearest introspective picture of the human mind ever presented in the literature of psychology. For, he said, the mind has elsewhere been treated as something very abstract and impregnable. Swedenborg here treats it descriptively, and maps the various features with sureness of intuition.

Howard Spoerl (formerly Professor of Theology at the Swedenborg School of Religion) stated that although Swedenborg lived and died before the American Revolution, his psychology has helped many people find inspiration in life, and his outlook is still vital though little known. Of the present work he stated that a modern note in this research was sounded by Swedenborg's insistence on real forces and impulses within the mind, which were not simply actions resulting from outside influences nor vague and shadowy "instincts."

The Text

The original manuscript, of which the present volume is a translation, was written by Swedenborg in 1742. It is now preserved in the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, in a bound volume (Codex 54) entitled by the binder, "Physiologica et Metaphysica". This volume consists of a preface, two leaves unnumbered; draft notes on the Fibre, two leaves also unnumbered; the main work (without title) commencing with Chapter XV (leaves 1-417); and "Ontologia" (leaves 118-126). The binding was done after Swedenborg's heirs had deposited his manuscripts in the Royal Academy, for the two leaves on the Fibre have no proper place in the volume.

Nothing was known of the contents of Codex 54 until 1845, when Dr. P. E. Svedbom, librarian of the Royal Academy, gave a detailed description of the contents in a letter to the London Printing Society (see this letter in the "Appendix to The Animal Kingdom", Vol. 2, translated by Clissold, 1846 edition. Note: this appendix was omitted in the 1955 reprint of that edition by the Swedenborg Scientific Association).

Three years later (1848) the Royal Academy graciously sent the codex to J. F. I. Tafel who published the greater part of it, namely, up to leaf 117, under the title "Regnum Animale, Pars Septem, De Anima", Tubingae et Londini, 1849. Here's a link to that Latin work.

English Versions

An English translation of nos. 351-377, 344-350, and 197-202 by J. H. Smithson was printed in the Intellectual Respository for 1849 and 1850. No further translation appeared until 1887 when the New Church Board of Publication published an English translation of the whole work by Frank Sewall, then president of Urbana University, Urbana, Ohio, under the title The Soul, or Rational Psychology. A second printing was made in 1900, a third in 1914.

The work was used as a textbook in the College of the Academy of the New Church, and when it went out of print the need for a new edition was keenly felt-and not only a new edition but also a new translation; for Sewall's translation had many inaccuracies, due in part to a faulty Latin text. However, the present work is indebted to the previous version for many useful suggestions.

In 1939, Alfred Acton asked Rev. Norbert H. Rogers to undertake to translate the work. He accepted, and during the next ten years completed nos. 15-280. In 1949, however, being unable to spare further time from his pastoral duties, Mr. Rogers was forced to discontinue the work, so Acton took it up and completed the translation.

During the whole course of the work the photostated manuscript was consulted in all cases where the text seemed doubtful or obscure. This led to the discovery of a number of errors in the printed Latin text. For a detailed list of these, see the appendix to the 1950 edition.

The Contents

The manuscript has no title, but the name "Rational Psychology" is indicated with sufficient clearness by a reference in the Preface to Transaction V of The Economy of the Animal Kingdom. In a sketch of the six proposed transactions which Swedenborg wrote in Codex 36 (A Philosopher's Note Book; manuscript pages 262-263), Transaction V is headed "Introduction to Rational Psychology." The title of Transaction VI would therefore logically be "Rational Psychology." Sewall's title "The Soul" is hardly descriptive of the work, for the soul is only one of the four general subjects treated of, the others being "sensation," "the animus," and "the rational mind."

There remains the question: why does Codex 54 begin with Chapter XV. The answer lies in a reexamination of the work previously published in Psychological Transactions as Transaction 6, under the title "Sensation or the Passion of the Body." 2 In addition to the clear relevance of the text of this document to the present work, the clue that it belonged to Rational Psychology was in part the fact that it comprises Chapters I-XIV (and Codex 54 begins with Chapter XV). We can only presume that the opening portion somehow got separated from the main text and ended up in another codex.

The "chapters" have been changed to paragraphs. Only 156-157 were found in the manuscript, but the numeration has been continued to the end of the work in this edition.

Swedenborg Scientific Association Publication Committee Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania


1. This revised edition contains material drawn from the "Introduction by the Editor" to the 1950 work, a first edition but not so named, edited by Alfred Acton.

2. See Psychological Transactions and Other Posthumous Tracts (1734-1744), second edition, Swedenborg Scientific Association, 1984, page vi, for further information.

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Many thanks to the Swedenborg Scientific Association for their permission to use this text on this site.