Board of the Institute of Philosophy cordially invite for the lecture on
The Natural Philosophy of Emmanuel Swedenborg
which will be given by
Prof. David Dunér
(Lund University, Sweden)
on Wednesday 27th November 2013 at 13:15
in the room no. 4 in the Institute of Philosophy
(ground floor, formerly journals reading-room, next to computer lab)
The Natural Philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg
Although Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) is commonly known for his spiritual philosophy, his early career was focused on natural science. During this period, Swedenborg thought of the world was like a gigantic machine, following the laws of mechanics and geometry. One of the major themes in his thinking is the relation between the material and the immaterial, body and soul. During all his life, as a scientist and a visionary, Swedenborg pondered on these questions. How can we get knowledge about the invisible? The world beyond the scope of our senses? The issue here is to explain the cognitive foundation of his matter theory expressed in his early scientific works, written before he became a visionary and mystic. In focus is the relation between environment and cognition that gives rise to theories of nature: how we think about that we can not see; how we understand the invisible through the visible. From the known we understand the unknown. In my book The Natural Philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg (2013) I put forward a cognitive-historical approach to history of science in order to explain concept formation in science. In this talk I explain, firstly, Swedenborg’s mechanistic worldview and metaphorical way of thinking up to the year 1734, and secondly, put forward new perspective of the mechanistic philosophy of the 17th and 18th century, i.e. the cognitive metaphors of the mind and its role in the formation of scientific theories. This approach can also cast new light on Swedenborg’s later spiritual philosophy and doctrine of correspondences.
David Dunér is professor of history of science and ideas at Lund University, Sweden. His second affiliation is as team member and PI for the research project ”Historical development of cognition and semiosis” at the Centre for Cognitive semiotics, Lund University. His most recent publications are: the monograph The Natural Philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg: A Study in the Conceptual Metaphors of the Mechanistic World-View (Dordrecht: Springer Verlag, 2013), and as editor of the collection of essays, The History and Philosophy of Astrobiology: Perspectives on Extraterrestrial Life and the Human Mind (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013). He is also editor-in-chief of the international peer reviewed annual Sjuttonhundratal: Nordic Yearbook for Eighteenth Century Studies.