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Human Organic
Lecture Notes by Hugo Lj. Odhner  

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Part 1, Chapter IV


I. What is Meant by 'Organic Forms'.

    The word 'organ' is derived from the Latin word for 'instrument', the Greek root of which is found in  - work, confined, drive, shut in, shut out.
    "Man is an organ of life"(48); the external man is the organ of the internal.(49) The spirit or soul is organic.(50)

1. The most ultimate application of the term 'organic' is to describe a composite group of natural substances which are so ordered and selected by a spiritual influx as to make a sentient and growing form, vegetative, animal, or human, which serves to express a living conatus.(51)

Note: Not every conatus is "living".(52)

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul". Gen.ii. 7.

2. The more interior things of man's body are "more purely organized"; and the brain, the natural mind the will and the understanding, the spirit, and finally the soul or inmost, are all spoken of as organs, since they are forms receptive of life and are instruments through which life finds its expression and usefulness.
    The skin, the bones, etc., are alive in a lesser degree than the organized forms themselves.(53)
    Organic forms are not only those which appear to the eye or which can be detected by the microscope; there are also organic forms still purer, which can never be discovered by any eye, naked or assisted. The latter forms are interior forms such as those of the internal sight.(54)
    The form of the mind is interiorly the form of the body, with the sole difference that the latter is exteriorly organized.(55)
    The operations of the purely organic substances of the mind are like those (of the body); with the difference that the operations of the organic substances of the body are natural.(56)
    The changes of state and form in the organic substances of the mind...are affections and thought.(57)
    The spiritual mind derives its form solely from the substances of the spiritual world.(58)
    Man's natural mind consists of spiritual substances together with natural substances; thought comes from its spiritual substances, not from its natural substances; these recede when man dies, while its spiritual substances do not.(59)
    Man's spirit is not a substance separated from the viscera, organs, and members of the man, but adheres closely to them (conjuncte). For the spiritual follows every stamen of them from outmosts to inmosts.... Wherefore when the connection is loosened between man's body and his spirit, the spirit is in a similar form as the man formerly was; there is only a separation of spiritual substance from material. Thence it is that the spirit has a heart and lungs equally as did the man in the world....(60)
    The spirit or soul is organic.(61) The soul is woven of such things as are in the spiritual world.(62) The spirit of man is created from finite things such as are in the spiritual world.(63)
    Spiritual forms are "living from the Lord, but still organic because they do not have life in themselves".(64)

3.     Since man's spirit is described as an organism, we read of the "spiritual body"; of the "spiritual organism of the mind... ceasing in a natural organism"(65); of "spiritual goods and truths" having a connection like that of the organics of the body(66) so that they form bundles like fibres(67) and actually form the spiritual body within the material body.(68) We also read that "love and wisdom are the real and actual substance and form which make the subject itself", i.e., the spirit.(69)

4.     The spiritual must organize itself on the basis of the natural.(70)

    Although a spiritual subject, such as the mind, the spiritual body, etc., may be described as an organism, it is only when it becomes associated with a natural substance that it can subsist and become permanent.
    All creation is effected in ultimates, and all Divine operation extends to ultimates and therein-creates and operates.... One who knows the quality of the substance in the spiritual world and respectively the quality of the matters in the natural world, can easily see that there is no procreation of angelic minds, nor can be, except in those and from those who inhabitan earth - the ultimate work of creation.... Substances in the spiritual world appear to be material, but they are not; and because they are not material, they are not permanent. They are correspondences of the affections of angels and remain as long as the affections or the angels remain and with these they disappear. And the same would be true of the angels if they had been created there.(71)
        Man by death puts off (the grosser substances of nature) and retains the purer substances of nature which are next to what is spiritual, and which are then his containants... (These) are convenient and accord with things spiritual and celestial....(72)
    An angel or spirit, in consequence of being born as man in the world, derives (thence) that he may subsist. For he takes with him from the inmosts of nature a medium between the spiritual and the natural, by means of which he is limited (finitur) that he may be subsisting and permanent. Through this there is to him a relativeness to those things which are in nature, and also (something) corresponding to them.... The angels know that there is such a medium, but because it is from the inmost things of nature and the words of all languages are from its ultimates, it cannot be described except by abstractions.(73)

    A change of organization of the mind or spirit is therefore not possible after death, but only in the material body.(74)

5.     In a widest sense, the whole universe may be regarded as an organism in which the Lord alone is the indwelling Life.(75) Thus "we are truly dead, because organic, and all life is from the Lord".(76)p. 38
               The whole Grand Man of heaven is organic.(77)

6.     The Lord in His Divine Human, or as GOD - MAN, is not an 'organ' receptive of life, but Life itself. But as the one organizing Conatus from which both worlds are organized, He is the Human Form itself, being Infinite Man.

    The term 'organic' is applicable to the Lord only in respect to the progressive glorification of His Human in the world. "His Human, when made Divine, was no longer an organ of life, but was life itself".(78)
    His Body after glorification is the Divine Good itself, in which there is nothing finite.(79)

7.     Organic forms may be defined as "vessels receptive of life and responsive to life".

II. Origin of Organic Forms

1.     Theories regarding the origin of organic forms.

a)     The various theories current in the world are conveniently classified by H.H. Titus in his "Living Issues in Philosophy".(80)

1.     Hylozoic view of matter: no real distinction made between the inorganic and the organic.
2.     Spontaneous generation of species, as in Lucretius' De Rerum Natura (c. 50 B.C.), challenged by Louis Pasteur c. 1860.
3.     Living spores driven by light waves or brought by cosmic dust from other planets. (Arrhenius, c.1900)
4.     Creation by Divine fiat, either instantaneously during six earth days, or gradually during six "geological days". Some even assume that an evolution took place, then a catastrophic destruction, followed by a creation as recorded in Genesis.
5.     Gradual emerging of living forms from matter and an evolution of species culminating in man.(81)
b)     Swedenborg the philosopher gives an idyllic portrayal of first creation in paradise, in his "Worship and Love of God".(82) This poetical account is based on the literal sense of Genesis i -ii, seen through the spectacles of his own philosophic studies. As he sees it, vegetable forms were first created which gave birth to corresponding species of animals(83); and later man was begotten by a spiritual influx into the fruit of the "tree of life".(84) This speculation is defended in WE 14, which notes that the supposition that the Lord employed modes and media in creating does not derogate from His Divine omnipotence.

c)     The Writings give no circumstantial teaching concerning the modes of organic creation on earth, beyond general principles:

1.     The creative influx of the spiritual world produces the forms of plants and animals by filling the spiritual forms with matters from the earth so that they become fixed and enduring and can reproduce themselves.(85) This can occur when affections or lusts (which in themselves are spiritual) find homogeneous or corresponding things on earth. "Conatus" can then clothe itself with a natural embodiment.(86)p. 40
2.     It is left as a question to be decided by experience whether this is still occurring, except where homogeneous matters" exist in seed or ova.(87) The observed origin of organisms from eggs or grafts "does not disprove their immediate springing up (exhortus)". (88) "It is according to the observation of some that certain seeds are yet being produced".(89)
3.     The development of the human race from a state resembling infancy (the Golden Age) to a state like youth and one like adult age is suggested in AE 641 and TCR 762. But before the church called 'Adam' there were 'preadamites'.(90) From analogy (which is never conclusive) we could infer a pre-human or subhuman ancestry of man, corresponding to foetal existence and to the "six days" of creation.
4.     The soul of a man is of a discretely higher degree than the souls of animals and plants.(91) Man contains all three spiritual degrees(92), as well as the three natural.(93)
d)     Among the discussions of "Evolution" within the New Church a symposium offering various views is to be found in New Church Life, 1928, pp 275-299, on "The Origin of Man". See also below, Part 3.  [DIAGRAM?]

2.     A common origin of all organic forms is suggested by a homology or observable similarity in their structures and functions.p. 41

a)     Evolutionary theories are all based on the study of similar biological structures, more complex among the animals of later geological periods. Many students therefore claim that there has been a certain drive towards the development of new and more advanced species.
    It is obvious that the same universal pattern is approximated in the forms of organic creation, although these are - as to equipment, variety, and perfection - adapted to the needs of the specific environment of each geological epoch.
b)     The learned in the world are led astray by this homology and have made men to be like the brutes; because they know nothing of the soul. (94)
c)    The Writings note that all things created have a relation to Man in a certain image (95); and that there is a conatus towards the human form in all things which proceed from the spiritual Sun and thence in all things of nature.(96)
    This takes the form of a conatus to produce uses.(97) Uses ascend by degrees from ultimates to man and through man to God. (98)
    From the conatus that is present in the forms of the animal kingdom the flow of spiritual substances and forces tends to the human form and to produce corresponding organs of sense, motion, nutrition, and prolification. (99)p. 42
    Minerals exhibit a conatus to imitate plants, as in crystalline formations, etc.(100)
    Plants evince a certain semblance to the animal form. (101)

3.     The causes of this homology lie in the influx from the spiritual world of formative forces which act according to correspondent reception and become productive of forms of living uses when they meet with homogeneous or corresponding materials on earth.(102)

a)     Everything Divine (Lord 32e) and everything spiritual conspires to the human form.(103)
b)     In everything spiritual there is a plastic force which is operative wherever homogeneous exhalations are present in nature; and also a propagative force.(104)
    Three forces are present in everything spiritual: the active force, the creative force, and the formative force.(105) c)     Nature produces nothing from itself, but serves to clothe the spiritual, thus acting as an instrumental cause.(106) The image of creation (i.e., the origin of all form) is Spiritual.(107)

4. The origin of the human race or the mode of the creation of the "first man" or "those who were first borne (108) is not directly treated of in the Writings. But it is stated that "man was created last" and that "into him were collated all things of Divine order from primes to ultimates...so that man was made Divine order in form". (109)
    In the process of creation, each form of life had to await the time when a suitable environment made its appearance so that its procreation as a species would be possible.(110)
    A statement in TCR 78 suggests that the creation of each new species on earth was instantaneous (momentanea) and was afterwards continued by the procreative process; whereas in the spiritual world there is no procreation of species, but all possible forms of plants and animals (and other objects) can there be created in a moment and maintained as long as corresponding affections of spirits are actively present to mediate.(111)

a)     The souls of plants and animals are natural affections, and come from the same discrete spiritual degree, viz., the ultimate spiritual, the spiritual-natural. The souls of plants are from the ultimates of this spiritual-natural degree, while the animal soul comes from its intermediates.(112)
b)     It may therefore be theorized as possible that all animal species might have "evolved" by slow organic deviations from common parent cells of a primitive order, since such species differ only by continuous degrees.
c)    On the other hand, the human soul is composed of all three spiritual degrees. (113) Hence it would be difficult for the New Church man to conceive how the human race could have been the end product of any evolution from animal ancestors.
d)    If mankind has an evolutionary history, it would accordingly have been from its own primitive parent cells: the "tree of life" would have been from a human seed. This is postulated in the "Microcosmic Theory". and there are no facts known at present which militate against it.(114)

5.     The final cause and origin of organic forms is the Lord as the Divine Human or God-Man. This accounts for all homologies throughout creation.
    The human is the inmost within every created thing, but devoid of space. (115) In the whole of creation there is an image of the human. (116)
    Whatever proceeds from God is of the human form, because God is Man Himself. (117)117 All things in the universe refer themselves to good and to truth. (118)
    Whatever proceeds from God is of the human form, because God is Man Himself. (Inv. 48.)
6.     Whatever exists in the natural world derives its origin and cause from the things that exist in the spiritual world.(119)
    All things natural, whether atmospheric, aqueous, or earthy, as to all the individual things thereof, are effects produced by the spiritual as a cause. (120) Nature is serviceable only for a clothing of the souls which come from the spiritual world. (121)
    All causes are in the spiritual world. (122) Every effect perishes without a continuous influx of the cause. (123) Taken by itself the effect is nothing but the cause so outwardly clothed that it may serve in a lower sphere to enable the cause to act as a cause there. (124)
    Spiritual things are living, essential, and substantial, and therefore they come forth into actual existence in ultimate nature. (125) Spiritual things are the"primitives" out of which matter arises. (126)

         Thus the spiritual world furnishes the organizing substance for all the forms of life on the earths of the natural universe as well as the conatus to motion which is latent within all inanimate matter.

7.     The "conatus" manifested in nature is not all necessarily "living".(127)


        The reference here is to the conatus to motion. All conatus is living in the sense that it is spiritual; for conatus is "the spiritual in the natural." (128) This sustentative and creative conatus is in matter itself as its immediate cause, and is the only real thing in the motions which - according to the Principia - constitute the complex entities of inanimate and elemental nature. It is derived from the spiritual in its ultimates, where the spiritual is "not living" since it does not express any particular purposes or living uses. (129)

8. The souls of all organic forms, vegetable, animal and human, are from the spiritual world. But there are degrees of things spiritual, and the souls of beasts are from the lowest spiritual degree, while the human soul includes all spiritual degrees.(130)

9. In nature there are two mediate causes by means of which every effect, every production and formation there, is accomplished.

       These mediate causes are light and heat. Light modifies substances and heat moves them, each from the presence of the sun in them. The presence of the sun that is manifested as light causes an activity of the forces or substances of every particle according to the form that it has from creation. This is modification. The presence of the sun that is perceived as heat expands the particles and produces the acting and effecting forces according to their form, by actuating the conatus that they have from creation. This conatus, which becomes by means of heat the acting force even in the minutest forms of nature, is from the spiritual acting in them and into them. (131)



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48 AC 149.

49 AC 5786.

50 AC 1594:5, 1999:3,4

51 Cf ISB 11.

52 Cf DLW 311, and below at section 11, p. 7.

53 DP 326: 10. (Cf SD 1741 2 2688).

54 AC 4224.

55 CL 310.

56 DP 279 7, cf 319.

57 DP 279:8 Cf DLW 40-42.

58 DLW 270.

59 DLW 257, cf 260.

60 D.wis.. Vii.

61 AC 1594: 5 (Cf AC 444).

62 TCR 103.

63 TCR 470

64 SD 3484e.

65 TCR 38 :3 351 :2

66AR 916:2.

67 TCR 38, 349

68 TCR 583.

69 DLW 40

70 Cf TCR 583; SD 3577.

71 D. Wis. viii.

72 DP 220 :2. (See entire passage).

73 D.Wis. viii., 4, 5. Cf DLW 257, 388; TCR 103.

74 CL 524 :3; DP 326 :5; BE 110.

75 SD 3576f.

76 SD 3940

77 SD 3419, (3939f), 1625a

78 AC 2658 :2 cf 1603 :2

79 SD 4845; LJ post. l 29; CLJ 75.

80 H.H. Titus, Living Issues in Philosophy (Amer. Book Co., 2nd ed. 1953) pp. 69ff

81 For a discussion of Evolution, see Titus, op. cit., pp. 73-82

82 Titus' nos. 18-38.

83 Titus 2528.

84 Titus 3238.

85 DLW 340, 344.

86 DLW 343, 340.

87 DLW 341,342.

88 DLW 342.

89 AE 1 209:3.

90 AC 286, cp TCR 166; SD 3390f.

91 ISB 15; DLW 346,255; AE 1201:4,1212:2; Div. Wis. iii.4:3

92 DLW 345,346,432

93 DLW 65,66,67.

94 TCR 66; Ath. Cr.26, 178; AE 1208; Lord 32e

95 DLW 61, cf AE 1197:3.

96 TCR 66; Ath. Cr.26, 178; AE 1208; Lord 32e

97 DLW 303,310f.

98 DLW 65.

99 AE 1208:3.

100 DLW 61,62; AE 1208:6.

101 AE 1203:5. Cf WLG 20 note m.

102 DLW 343 340

103 SD 5556; AC 5110:3, 6605.

104 AE 1201.

105 AE 1209:2

106 AE 1215

107 DLW 315, ill. 344.

108 SD 2591-

109 109 LJ 9.

110 Cp DLW 65f, 170f

111 Cp DLW 321, 322, Div. Wis. viii. 3.AE 1212:2.

112 AE 1212:2

113 DLW 346, 432.44

 114 The theory is explained by Dr. C. R. Pendleton, in The Journal of Education, Vol. xxiii (April 1928), pp. 204-227.

115 DLW 285:3.

116 Inv. 48; DLW 52; TCR 66

117 Inv. 48.

118 HD 11.

119 AC 8211:2.

120 AE 1207:3-

121 Cf ibid

122 DLW 119; AC 3908.

123 AC 5116:3.

124 AC 5711.

125 AC 1808. 1807.

126 Cf TCR 79:7, 280:8.

127 DLW 311, see Latin edition, and context.

128 AC 5173.

129 Cf AE 1212:2, and also the treatise on Action, xxi-xxiii, xxvii. See the article on "Non-Living Conatus," in New Church
Life (1930), pp. 649f. 46

130Cf AE 1201, 1199, and context; DLW 346. On the spiritual world as a world of "souls", see New Church Life (
1930), pp. 651f.

131 AE 1206e, cf 726(2).

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