Part 2, Chapter III
THE PATERNAL SEED
1. The father gives not life but only a first covering or receptacle
of life, a first or purest form "to which, as to a stamen or initiament,
are successively added in the womb substances and matters in forms adapted
for the reception of life in their order and in their degree"(209),
"even to the ultimate (form) which is adequate to the modes of the world
"Call no man your father upon earth; for One is your
Father, which is in heaven." Matt. 23:9.
2. This first receptacle of life is within the paternal seed from which
every human being is conceived.
This can be affected by the condition of
the sire. See Roger William arrival experiments. - Dr. Marlin W. Heilman
This seed contains "a graft (tradux) or offset
(propago) of the father's soul in its fullness, within a certain
envelope from the elements of nature, out of which (per haec) its
body is formed in the womb...."(211)
"In the seed of man is his soul in perfect
human form, veiled over with substances from the finest things of nature,
out of which (ex quibus) a body is formed in the womb of the mother."
The seed from the father, which carries an endeavor (conatus) to
the human form, is thus called the first receptacle of life (213)
and is said to be that which is clothed with a body from the mother. (214)
3. How the paternal seed is formed:
"The primitive which is from the soul of the parent,
endeavors to the formation of the whole man in the ovum and the womb, although
this primitive is not in the form of the body but in another most perfect
form known to the Lord alone...."(215) Therefore
there can be no extension into any other form than the human in the development
of the embryo, nor any extension into any other form than the human in
the development of the embryo, nor any extension except by radiating fibres.
"The interior man, or spirit itself, is from the father; but the outer
man, or body itself, is from the mother.... The soul itself is implanted
by the father, and this begins to clothe itself in a little bodily form
in the ovule. Whatever is afterwards added, whether in the ovule or in
the womb, is of the mother, for it has no increase from anywhere else."(217)
"Man begins from the soul which is the very essence
of the seed: this not only initiates, but also produces in their order
those things which are of the body...."(218)
a) Natural semination is from a spiritual origin,
and arises from spiritual semination, viz., from the truths of wisdom or
truths from good, thus the truths of which the understanding consists.
The prolific is from truth from good in the male understanding.(220)
Sex Determination. The masculine soul is truth,
while the feminine soul is intellectual good which also in its essence
is truth. Hence both sons and daughters can be conceived out of the male
understanding.(221) The sex of the offspring
is thus determined by the seed, which contains either a masculine soul
or a feminine soul.
Biologists at the present day distinguish 48 chromosomes
in every somatic cell in both sexes. Two particular types of chromosomes
which seem to indicate sex are observed in these body cells; and these
two types are called X and Y. The female has two X chromosomes in each
of her body cells, the male has one X and one Y. When ova are formed by
reduction division in the organs of reproduction, each will contain 24
chromosomes of which one is an X. When the male germ-cells are formed by
similar division, each would contain 24 chromosomes, but half of the spermatozoa
would contain and X and half would possess a Y. When the conjugation of
spermatozoon with ovum finally occurs, the result would either be a combination
of two X chromosomes or one of one X and a Y. XX would be productive of
a female while XY would produce a male.
Biologists accredit sex-determination only to chance,
and the probabilities should then result in the ration of fifty to fifty.
But it is thought that over five percent more Y-bearing sperm are developed
to compensate for the greater rate of stillborn males.
Every body cell in the human male contains a
Y chromosome as well as an X, while every cell in the female body contains
two X chromosomes. Compare this with the statement in Conjugial Love:
"...In the male, the masculine is masculine in every part of his body even
the most minute, and also in every idea of his thought and in every grain
of his affection; and so likewise the feminine in the female." "In a word,
nothing whatever in them is alike; and yet in their single parts there
is what is conjunctive...."(223)
Possibly the time may come when humans feed
for sex determination. Nutrition, Bees feed for sex determination.- Dr.
Marlin W. Heilman
The Writings indicate however, that heredity variation
is dependent on the state of the parents at the time when the offspring
is conceived.(224) This may perhaps be confirmed
by the fact that sex distribution is frequently very one sided within families.(225)
FUNCTIONS OF THE CENTRIOLES OF THE SPERMATOZOON
b) The seed is conceived interiorly in the father's
understanding, is formed in the will, is transferred to the testes where
it clothes itself with a natural veiling.(226)
Thus truth (or the soul) in its progress into the body is formed into seed.(227)
(This influx of the spiritual into the body is spoken of according
to the appearance, since the spiritual is not in place.(228))
Being spiritual in its essence, the soul can
procreate itself indefinitely without any loss. For a spiritual substance
has not extension but impletion, and from it there can be no taking away
of a part, since it is similar to itself in its least receptacles as in
its greatest which is the body itself.(229)
c) In the descent to become seed, the soul is veiled
over with such things as are of the father's natural love. From this springs
hereditary evil.(230) The seed is the form
of the father's ruling love with the nearest affections from that love.(231)
It consists of discrete degrees in simultaneous order. (232)
It contains a conatus to procreate. (233)p.
d) The seed is-further covered or clothed in the seminal vesicles and
later is resolved in neck of the uterus.
The first form which is the inmost of the seed
must be successively opened(234), natural heat serving
as a means.(235)
Being simple, the inmost of the seed is exempt from
The seed contains the husband's soul and also his
mind as to its
4. The natural substances of the seed are a covering from the finest
things of nature and serve mainly as a vehicle for the
The discovery of the nature of the natural substances
of the seed had been gradual.
Aristotle noted that the mother, through the
menses, supplied the corporeal element of the future child while the
psychical element (soul) came from the father.(239)
Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) observed whiplike
organisms moving in the seminal fluid and concluded that they were animal
parasites infesting the testes. Hence-he called them "spermatozoa". But
Herman Boerhaave (16681738) regarded them as refined blood, and its living
"amimalcula" as containing the rudiments of the future embryo. (Preformation
theory) Conception occurred, he believed, when the "living elements" of
the sperm penetrated the egg.(240)
Abbe' Spallanzani (1729-1799) filtered off the spermatozoa
and found that without them the seminal fluid had no power to fertilize
the egg. But he believed that it was the accompanying fluid which stimulated
the development of the egg.(241) He held to the Preformation
theory as to the egg.
In the last half of the 19th century Koelliker
and others proved the origin of the spermatozoa in the testes and that
they were really cells which had lost their round shape and acquired tails
for moving about. Herman Fol in 1879 actually observed a spermatozoon
enter an eggcell and the conclusion was reached that one single male cell
performs the act of fertilization.
Swedenborg's concept of the nature of
the seed in essentials anticipated modern views, as may be gathered from
various statements in his physiological treatises.
In his treatise on "The Origin and Propagation
of the Soul" (dated 1739 or 1740) he states: " In the organs of the
male are conceived the first rudiments of the brain, that is, the purer
cortex which otherwise (alias) is contained in the cortical glands; and
thus from this, as from an inchoament of the body, organic forms are projected
which afterwards, in the ovum and womb of the mother - always however under
the auspices of this little brain - successively...produce a body."(242)
(OPS ii., cf iii. See R. Psych. 424, where the purer
cortex is called a "pure intellectory".) Cf
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Note: Every body cell (somatic) in the male contains a Y chromosome
as well as an X, while every cell of the female
body contains two X chromosomes.
"In the male the masculine is masculine in every part of the body, even
the most minute, . ..and so is the female in the female"
SEXES IN PLANTS In plants, "the flowers form in their bosom a new little
stem (caudicillum) by which the strained juice may inflow and thus initiate
and by successive steps form the fruit which may be compared to the testicle
in which the seeds are perfected" (T. 585). (see s v. Feminine and s.v.
Marriage in 2nd Index Lost Work on Marriage) in plants E 1205, 1208:5)
(a) recognizable stamen, pistil, etc.;
(b) seed = masc earth = fem. "Man's seed is cultivated interiorly in
the understanding and is formed in the will and is thence transferred into
the testicle where it clothes itself with a natural covering and is thus
conducted into the womb and enters the world. Moreover, there is a correspondence
of man's regeneration with all things of the vegetable kingdom." (T. 584).
PLANT Stamen corresponds to Understanding (in Cerebrum).
Pistil " Will (in Cerebellum)
Fruit " " Use (in Testicle)
Seed " " Semen perfected (truth)
Earth " " Womb or oviform
substance (good, church)
" body (character)
lungs then opened (understanding)
Stem or trunk "
Flower " " marriage of good & truth
Cp TCR 585:2, AE 1203:2
See further discussion (from the viewpoint of the Beekman correlation
theory) of Spermatogenesis in NC Life 1906, pp 129-139
In the work on "Generation", he notes
that the life of the seed is derived from the cerebellum, whence the nerve
fibres which lead to the genital organs originate.(243)
But since the character of a man is determined by the cerebrum in which
the conscious mind resides, the initial impulse of generation must be considered
to come from the understanding, as is taught in the Writings.(244)
It is doubtful whether there are any connections
between the cerebellum and genital organs - though this does not appear
to be finally verified. - Dr. Robert Alden
The function of the testicles is to extract the "first
essence" (or spirituous fluid) from the simple fibres.(245)
The most pure "globules" of this essence are the carriers of the soul and
formative force. (They should not be designated as globules except by 'analogy'.(246))
The animal spirit (or purer blood) is extracted from the blood and nervous
tunics in the epididymes and forms a surface over the purest globules.(247)
The globules thus clothed are determined into fibrous extensions or eel-like
forms; but it is wrong to suppose that the fetus begins from these.(248)
These forms are compounded in the vesiculae seminales
into "seminal globules" which at Swedenborg's day were visible under the
microscope. The globules adhere like a humor which is further enveloped
by the secretions of the prostate gland (249), so that
it can be conveyed into the matrix and be resolved. When this is accomplished,
the seminal globules fly off through the fallopian tubes into the ovules.(250)
The globules are then opened and unlocked. The seed is not in eel-like
shape when it penetrates the ovum, however, but it is in the form of a
kind of vital aura.(251). A number of the "primitive globules"
are thus heaped up in the ovum and find their first nourishment there.(252)
(Modern biologists have claimed that the head of the spermatozoon penetrates
the ovum while the tail-like portion drops away, but some doubt seems to
After entering the ovum, the supreme animal essence
then commences its formative work by conceiving a brain in purest effigy,
such as it is in the depths of the cortical substance, and from many such
'brains' it extends itself into a "carina" by means of simple fibres and
by stages and degrees weaves the texture of the body.(253)
5. The spiritual substance within the seed
is called "an offset of the father's soul."(254) But
by the 'soul' is here meant not only the inmost but all the degrees of
It includes all the spiritual(255),
all that is internal(256), thus the father's mind as
to its interiors.(257)
It includes "the mind, the animus, disposition (indoles),
inclination and affection of the father."(258)
It is described as the very essence from which the
offspring is(259), including both good and evil(260);
as the esse of a man's life(261); as the inmost, soul,
or very life(262); and as the interior man or spirit.(263)
"The body is the proceeding from the father's esse
which is called his soul (264)
6. Conception occurs when the spiritual
contents of the seed is insinuated into the little ovum.(265)
7. A spiritual representation of man's primitive
in the womb after conception was shown to Swedenborg. (266)
This primitive (267), is
identified with the paternal seed from which conception takes place, but
is said to be of spiritual substance, not visible in natural light. Thus
the description is not that of the spermatozoon, but of the spiritual degrees
within the seed.
"The primitive of man which is from the soul of the
parent, endeavors towards the formation of the whole man...although this
primitive is not in the form of the body, but in another most perfect form
known to the Lord alone...."(268)
"As in the formation of man in the womb, spiritual
things conjoin themselves with natural things, there are many particulars
that cannot be described; namely, such spiritual things as are abstracted
from natural things and thence have not expressions in natural language
except certain universals which one man understands more intelligently
than another...." (269)
Swedenborg describes this primitive, as he saw it
in spiritual representation, "as adequately as the expressions of natural
language permitted." It is a double receptacle of life, to receive love
and wisdom.(270) The receptacles, which are the initiaments
of man, are of three degrees, one degree within the other. The two interior
degrees are the dwelling places of the Lord, and are in heavenly order
and form, but not the lowest, for in that reside evils and hereditary corruptions.
The receptacles were represented as a tiny image
of the brain with no appendages but with the delineation as of a face in
front. The upper convex part was constructed of contiguous spherules
containing indescribable interlacings, each spherule being divided into
hemispheres, right and left, and joined by wonderful connections.
The form as a whole represented the lowest degree
and was composed of tiny spherules; these again had component spherules
which make the second degree; and each of these were composed of spherules
of the highest degree. The three degrees answer to the three heavens or
to the three degrees of the mind, the lowest of which is pervertible.(271)
The lowest degree could be reformed only if the higher degrees were opened.
With brutes, the two higher degrees are lacking; with clean beasts the
lowest degree is not turned contrary to the order of universal flux.(272)
8. It is an error to think that man is
in his fullness from his first or rudiment in the seed and afterwards simply
Aristotle had taught the beginnings of
what is called the theory of` "epigenesis". Harvey (1578-1657)
followed him in the thought that the embryo was formed out of the previously
unformed material of the egg or ovum. But Malpighi (in 1672) believed
he saw the rudiments of the future chicken preformed in the unfertilized
egg. This was the basis of the fallacious theory of "preformation".
and Boerhaave (d. 1738) followed this theory. At Swedenborg's time,
von Haller (1708-1777), and all other notables had accepted Preformation,
despite Swedenborg's objections.
"Preformation" led to the absurd idea that if the
animal exists preformed - whether in the egg or in the seed - like
boxes one within the other, the germs of all generations must have existed
within Eve's ovum or in Adam's seed, and would eventually be exhausted.
It was not until 1759 that Kaspar Friedrich Wolff
(1733-1794) took issue with the Preformation theory and proved by his able
drawings that development consists in a gradual formation of parts. His
discoveries were scorned, since he seemed to make development miraculous.(274)
Modern embryology shows that the seed and the ovum
are both highly organized, but that none of the future body members are
represented in them.
Swedenborg stresses this in his repeated objection to the theory of
Preformation: "The several members are produced successively, or
one after another; so that there is no real effigy of the greatest in the
least, nor is there in the germ (primo) any type of the future body which
is simply expanded." (275) It was, he shows, an
error of his age "that man was in his fullness from his first which is
the inchoament and that he is afterwards perfected (only) by growth in
size."(276) Yet in the eyes of God all the structures
of the body are foreseen. (277) And in potency
they are present in the formative substance or soul which is in the
9. The paternal heredity should not be thought to be seated exclusively
in the so-called "chromosomes" of the seed, as is
generally supposed. The centrosome and other parts of the cytoplasm
or the nucleus may be found to contain the more
important parts of the genetic pattern.
209 DLW 6, cf DP 330.
210 D. Love ii, e.
211 TCR 103.
212 CL 183.
213 DLW 269.
214 DP 277a, cf TCR 92.
215 AC 3633.
216 D. Wis. iii. 4.
217 AC 1815.
218 TCR 166; AC 6468e.
219 CL 115:5, 355e; Can.Tr. iv. 5.
220 CL 90e.
222 Recently it is claimed that only 46 are present.
223 CL 33
224 See AC 3469:3, cf WE 1053, 1056.
225 Cf WE 1049with context, and 1060.
226 TCR 584.
227 CL 220; SD 875, 884
228 See second Index of the "missing work" on Marriage, s.v. Influx.
229 See CL 220; TCR 103; ISB 11:3, cf CL 315:11, 315:8; re animals,
230 CL 245.
231 DP 277a; TCR 92.
232 DLW 207; AC 10181:3.
233 AC 3648.
234 234AC 8603:2.
235 Cf HH 567:3; DLW 315, cp AC 5056:2.
236 DLW 204e, cp AC 9666:2.
237 CL l , 2. Reception of the seed by the wife is discussed in De
Conj. 3,; AE 1005; CL 172; SD 6110:63. Inheaven,CL
51, 52, 115:5, 355e; cfD. Wis. viii. See`'Marriage and Modern Learning",
by H.L. Odhner, 1955.
238 TCR 1 03; CL 1 33 , et al.
239 Hist. of Animals. Parva Naturalia
240 Gener. 160; Erik Nordenskjold, Hist. of Biology p.l86.
241 Nordenskjold, p. 248.
242 OPS ii., cf iii. See R. Psych. 424, where the purer cortex is called
a "pure intellectory." Cf Gener.
243 Gener 47.
244 TCR 584.
245 Gener. 169, 170.
246 Gener 168.
247 Gener 169.
248 Gener. 171, 172.
249 Gener. 173.
250 Gener. 174. See nos. 253ff for an alternative theory as to the
path of seed into ovum.
251 Gener. 174. Compare this with the "asters" which radiate from the
two centrioles derived from the sperm as it cause
cell-division in the zygote.
252 Gener 175, cf 254.
253 Gener. 175.
254 TCR 103.
255 TCR 92, 103.
256 AC 1815
257 CL 172.
258 TCR 103.
259 AC 5689:3.
260 WE 1057.
261 AC 3299.
262 AC 6716:2; Ath. Cr.30:3,215,216.
263 AC 1815.
264 AC 10269:2
265 Cf SD 884.
266 DLW 432. Cf D. Wis. iii.4.
267 DLW 432.
268 AC 3633, cf DLW 432e; WE 1457.
269 Div. Wis. ii i.
270 D.Wis. iii. 2.
271 Cf DLW 345.
272 D.Wis. iii. 4; DLW 432
273 DLW 432.
274 J. Mayer, Seven Seals of Science ( 192 7), and E. Nordenskold,
Hist. of Biology (1928).
275 Ec. 249.
276 DLW 432.
277 Psalm 139:13-16.