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Human Organic
Lecture Notes by Hugo Lj. Odhner  

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Part 4, Chapter II



A.     The classical usage of the term "soul" was carried over by Swedenborg into his physiological Works.(1348)

    While also used in an indeterminate sense, the common classical and Christian usage of the term Soul (Gr. psyche, Lat. anima) was to denote a substance or faculty which transmitted to the material body the force of sentient and appetitive life, in contrast to the Spirit or Mind (Gr. nous, pneuma, Lat. mens and animus, spiritus).
    The Christian fathers also spoke of the immortal spirit as the Intellectual Soul", to distinguish it from the physical psyche. Paul (I Cor. xv. 44) explains that there is a natural or "psychical" body which perishes, while the spiritual or "pneumatical" body is raised from the dead.

    Swedenborg therefore at first used the term anima or "soul" to describe a physical entity which in general meant the psyche of the Christians and the "animal spirit" of the ancient Greeks. But as he proceeds in his study of he relation of the spiritual and the natural, or of the mind and the body, he gradually begins to separate the spiritual or mental from the physical, and to recognize that the physical soul is but the natural basis for the real soul which is the immortal spirit itself. And finally he distinguishes the spiritual soul into its various degrees, including in it the Animus, the Mens, and the unnamed "inmost" which alone is the "soul" of the spirit. See page below.

B.     Swedenborg arrived at his doctrine of the Soul through a process of research, development and enlightenment. Reference:
"Swedenborg's System of Discrete Degrees. Chart of Historical Development", by H.L. Odhner.

    Unless this process, with its inevitable changes in the values of terms, is understood, it would appear that Swedenborg contradicted himself radically.

1.     Swedenborg's first endeavor was to outline a system of particles and forces which would explain the gradual formation and general constitution of the forms of nature. following the laws of geometry and space-time mechanics. This system, after many preliminary attempts, was published in the Principia of 1734. It describes the origin of matter from conatus which generates points of energy out of which all natural substances are successively formed by various modes of motion, composition and compression, from highly active "first finites" down to hard and passive water-particles and salts.(1349)

2.     Swedenborg's second effort was to defend and demonstrate man's immortality by stressing the existence of the Soul as an organic natural substance of so lofty a nature that it was not affected by the destructive forces of lower nature. He suggested that it was not affected by the destructive forces of lower nature. He suggested that it was constructed out of the "first" and "second" finites which were described in his Principia.(1350)

3. His third effort was concerned with showing that the substance of this Soul or "spirituous fluid" was derived from the highest atmosphere of nature, the "celestial' aura", and was not only adapted for the beginning of motion but for the reception of life and wisdom which proceed from the "Moral Sun" by the mediation of the Spirit of God. Hence the intelligence and wisdom of the Soul ware not from the "first aura" nor from the "spirituous fluid". The form of the surviving soul was human. (1351)

4.     The fourth effort was to show that, as to their life-essence or mental qualities, souls and angels were of a Spiritual Form, fully human, above created nature, i.e., above the Celestial or First Natural Form, thus above the terms by which material things can be described. (1352)

5.     His fifth effort was further to defne this spiritual form of the Soul (as distinguished from the spirituous fluid). The spiritual soul was "immaterial, without extension, motion, or parts"; yet it had analogues of parts. It might be good or it might be evil. He avoided saying much about the 'human' form (shape) of the soul, since this might give too material an idea of it.(1353)

6.     His studies in the Animal Kingdom ( 1744) impress him with the doctrine of Trines, and lead to a shift in his system of degrees. He begins to speak of the ether of light and the ether of magnetism as one atmosphere, and places " a supreme or universal spiritual" above the "celestial aura" in which latter he places only the natural essence of the Soul. (Senses)

7.     He next begins to show that the spiritual Soul (considered now as the in most first receptive of intelligence and love from God) together with the Mens and the Animus, are all above the celestial or highest natural form. (1354)

8.     After this he defines the Soul as purely spiritual and supra-celestial (above the angelic heaven); the Mens or Rational as also of spiritual essence; while the Animus is intermediate between spiritual and natural substances. Hence the souls of brutes partake of both the spiritual and the natural. (1355)

9.     Finally, in the Writings, it is clearly indicated that the Soul and the Mind of man are of purely spiritual form and- substance. Yet a "limbus" or border derived from the inmost substances of nature is required as the basis for individual immortality and as a medium between spirits and the human rase; this limbus is drawn from the natural substances by means of which the natural mind was organized in the brain. (1356) This medium cannot be seen by the angels, nor described except by'abstractions. (1357)

10.     CONCLUSION: Thus that which in the physiological works is often called the "soul" and is described as a spirituous fluid and as the highest of natural forms, is in the Writings distinguished as the cutis-like envelopment of the Spirit, while the spiritual part of man is the mind and soul which in the other life are seen in organic form, fully human.:


                    The "Economy" Doctrine

A. The origin of the "spirituous Fluid" is from the first aura of the world.

    "This fluid, pure beyond all imagination" is not generated from the food we eat, but from " the firsttaura of the world, which has no inertia, no materiality ( so far as materiality involves inertness and gravity)" but is force in the form of nature in her most perfect sphere. (1358)

    It is elaborated in the cortical substances of the brain; its conception and formation must be called "eminent or transcendental" and can be understood only by analogues or by abstractions. (1359)

B.     The Natural and the Spiritual principles. Motion and Life.

    Two distinct principles determine the spirituous fluid assumed as the soul: the one in natural by which it is enabled to exist send be moved in the world; the other is spiritual. by which it is enabled to five ' end be wise. (1360)

    By the mediation of the auras we are only moved, but do not live... Even the most eminent aura does not live... Hence the spirituous fluid of most pure blood, although formed with reference to the whole amazing faculty of the first aura of the world, still could not possibly live as the soul of its kingdom unless life were in it from the highest of origins. (1361)

    Since this supereminent blood has acquired its form from the first substances of the world, it can by no means be said to live. The auras of the world do not manifest life, but force and motion. They are not susceptible of sensation but belong to physics which contemplate nothing abstracted from matter. It is a self-evident truth that matter, or any part or extense of matter, cannot think not can it feel, hear, see, taste, or smell; for all these are properties of the soul, much less to feel, perceive, understand or regard ends. For nature, considered in itself, is dead, and only serves life as an instrumental cause. (1362) Life is one thing, and nature another.(1363)

    All the four auras of the Principia are mentioned in the Economy as having physical functions in that they produce modifications upon the human organism. There they come to participate of the life of the soul. Thus the air causes modulations which are felt by the soul as sonorous ideas: while the modulations of the ether are interpreted as visual images, those of the magnetic aura as immaterial, rational, of intellectual ideas, and those of the first aura as intuitive ideas through which the ends of the universe can be represented. (1364)
    The first aura, which is that which affects the spirituous fluid, is that which conveys light from the sun and from the stars and holds together the minusest forms of the universe. (1365)
    The first aura is inanimate and relapses into its original state after each accidental mutation. But the things that are impressed upon the spirituous fluid inhere in it and are retained as memory. No extrinsic natural force can change the essential determinations of this vital fluid, however. (1366)

C.     The Spirituous Fluid as a receptacle of Life and Wisdom.

    The Deity is the Sun of life and wisdom. To know the manner of its influx is beyond the human mind. Yet this mode can be represented by the proceeding of light from the natural sun. As the sun of nature's world flows in by the mediation of auras, so also the sun of life and of wisdom flows in by the mediation of the Spirit of God. But one sun is within nature, the other is above it. The one is physical; the other purely Moral. And the one falls under the philosophy of the mind, while the other lies withdrawn among the sacred mysteries of theology. In the Scriptures, the Spirit of God is therefore often compared with a finest aura. (1367)
    This life and intelligence flow with vivifying virtue into no other substances but those which are accommodated at one to the beginning of motion and to the reception of life and wisdom. How the spirituous fluid is thus adapted for the reception of life and wisdom is beyond human thought (1368)
    The Sun of life and wisdom inflows "from without" (1369) into the "soul" or spirituous fluid without any unition with it. (1370) The reception of life in the soul is accompanied with a freedom of action which only Revelation can describe. (1371)
    Life, with all its variety, is received according to the form and state of the organic substance. But in order that this may be so, the variety itself must be in the influx, not in the receiving organ. (1372)

D.     The Spiriustuos Fluid as the Soul of the Body

1.     It is a fluid of highest degree of purity which supplies with moisture every living point and corner of the body.(1373) It irrigates, nourishes, forms, renovates, actuates and modifies the body. (1374)

2.     Although, as a fluid of the "celestial" (or perpetually vortical) it belongs to dead nature and cannot be said to live, feel, perceive, or understand, yet it serves the soul as an instrumental cause and is therefore to be called the spirit and soul of its body, or the "spirituous fluid".(1375)  The Soul itself is its life, spirit, and determinant principle. (1376)  Its office may therefore be said to be - to represent the universe, to regard ends, to be conscious, and principally to determine. (1377)  it is the order, law, and truth of the lower faculties. (1378)

     I don't see any medium thus far worked out by science which could accurately be compared to the spirituous fluid. My impression is that it would by definition be of an order higher than that of the known electrophysical forces operating in the body, such as the various ion exchanges. - Dr. Robert Alden

3.     The spirituous fluid is called a "spirituous essence" and a "fluid" by eminence. It generates (and flashes through) the simplest fibrils. (1379)
    It is the principal substance and vital essence of the red blood. (1380)  It is Blood "by eminence."(1381)  It is the first and pure essence, truly animal and a partaker of 1ife. (1382)1382
    Present in the seed of the father, it constructs its body without previous science. (1383)  It is the formative substance of the body, capable of forming its own body and to contain life and thus soul. (1384)  It is the most perfect, universal, and simple of the substances and forces of its kingdom. (1385)
    This formative substance was called by some "the plastic force" or "the Archaeus, by others "nature in action" (Paracelsus gave it the name 'Archaeus' in describing a semi-material-medium which fecundated the egg.) (1386)

    The veriest formative substance, however, is the Soul itself, and the spirituous fluid is the next in the order of substances. (1387)  This spirituous fluid is thus the external form of the Soul, its eminently organic substance, or the organ of the faculty called the Soul. (1388)
    Its nature is therefore either "celestial" (perpetuo-vorticaI) or spiritual-depending on aspect. (1389)
    As a faculty, it is superior to the lower mentaI organics, thus above the intellectual mind.(1390)


        Swedenborg's realization of the need of an a priori source of order in the mind as in the body, here leads him to use the term "soul" in a manner contrary to general usage.
4.     The circulation of the spirituous fluid is universal throughout the body, terminating in the blood vessels but returning thence into the fibres.(1391)  The Soul being itself void of extense and motion - cannot be said to have a "circulation", yet its determinations are along the simple fibres.(1392)

    The nature of the spirituous fluid can be perceived only through recourse to the philosophical doctrines of Forms and Degrees, joined to Experience. (1393)

    The spirituous fluid of animals differs from that of man, and the different species have different types. (1394)  Brutes derive their formative essence from the magnetic ether. (1395)

   The spirituous fluid is likened to what others have called the "animal spirit"(1396)  But it is to be distinguished from the "animal spirit" when this term is used to refer to the middle or "purer" blood, i.e., to the pellucid corpuscles of Leeuwenhoek.(1397)

E.     Is the Spirituous Fluid to be considered as Material?

    Everything extended may be called material, and thus even the first substance of the universe, which in this sense is the materia prima. Nothing occurs in the spirituous fluid which cannot be embraced in the term 'material'. But the more noble essence and life of the soul is not and for that reason we cannot call the soul material in respect to its reception of this life. (1398)   Since there is nothing of inertness or inertia in the first aura or in the spirituous fluid, materiality (in its usual sense) cannot be ascribed to them. (1399)
    That the pirituous fluid is a natural substance is shown by the fact that it is confined within fibres. Its units cannot be seen even with the microscope, but a large volume of it can be seen. (1400)
    Spirituous fluid cannot be contained within glass or other vessel; hence there is no hope of preparing from it any "alcahest" or elixir of life, such as Paracelsus and others sought. (1401)
    It is extremely volatile and is therefore tempered by etherial elements. (1402)  Nature carefully guards against its loss. (1403)

F.     The Spirituous Fluid assumed as the Soul of the Body, is Finite(1404)

    It is an extended substance, governed by mechanical laws.(1405)  Its operations are thus also mechanical.(1406)
    The soul cannot be conceived as a simple finite, but as a composite. It is not only active, but passive.(1407)  It is not the first of all substances, but the first of its own animal series.(1408)
    "We cannot predicate degrees of perfection or imperfection of the soul", but only of the mind, animus, and body.(1409)l409


        This is apparently in contradiction to 2 Econ. 315, where a superior essential mutation is admitted as possible in this fluid, to correspond to the different ways by which life is received and wisdom is received by different individuals.  But note well that as to its mechanical or essential action, and as to its formative powers, the spirituous fluid is the same in all, or equally perfect in all. (1410)
        But note also that in his-later statements, Swedenborg distinguishes more fully between the Soul (as to life-essence, personal character, and mental activities) and the spirituous fluid. He then states that motion cannot be predicated of the Soul: "The Soul is without parts and without motion" (Action, xxvii). The Soul, as to life, is "spiritual", "simple", devoid of parts, size, extension, figure, motion, gravity, etc. (1411)



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1348 References: NewPhilosophy(1944), pp. 43-44, and chart on p. 44, 2 Econ. 248-259.

1349 Chemistry 1721; Misc. Obs. 1722; Lesser Princ. 1728; Principia, 1734.

1350 De Infinito 1734; Psychologica 1734. 35

1351 Economy of the Animal Kingdom 1740, 1741.

1352 Fibre 1742.

1353 Rational Psychology 1742.

1354 Worship and Love of God 1745.

1355 "Word Explained. "

1356TCR 103; DLW 257; D. Wis. viii.

1357  I Econ. 650; D. Wis. viiie. 3

1358 82 Econ. 166; I Econ. 63 8.

1359 2Econ. 167. Cf WLG 33.

1360 2 Econ. 270.

1361 2 Econ 199.

1362  2 Econ. 232-234, I Econ. 635.

1363 2 Econ. 235.

1364  See 2 Econ. 235, 289, 290.

1365 2 Econ. 272, Eng. ed.(1903), p. 250.

1366 2 Econ. 314.

1367 2 Econ. 250, 260, 266.

1368 2 Econ. 241ff, 252, 254, 255.

1369 2 Econ. 263.

1370 2 Econ. 257f.

1371 2 Econ. 261.

1372 2 2 Econ 264

1373 I Econ. 37.

1374  I Econ. 154; 2 Econ. 221

1375  2 Econ. 245; Fibre 254.

1376 I Econ. 271; Gener. 175.

1377 2 Econ. 274.

1378 2 Econ.276.

1379  Fibre 254,201; 2 Econ. 219ff.

1380 I Econ.37ff,91,270.

1381 I Econ.148; 2 Econ.649.

1382 Fibre 254.

1383 Gener. 175, 170,264, 265.

1384 I Econ.633, 636,637.

1385 I Econ.257; 2 Econ.229, 221; I Econ.634, 600; OPS iv.

1386 I Econ.253.

1387 I Econ.247, 270.

1388 Fibre 374; 2 Econ. 303.

1389 Fibre 316. see "Doctrine of Forms."

1390 2 Econ. 277.

1391 See I Econ. 38, 148, 150; 2 Econ. 131, 168ff, 219ff.

1392 Fibre 327, 321.

1393 2 Econ. 225, 211, 212; OPS iii.

1394 I Econ. 97; 2 Econ. 338 ff.

1395 Econ. 338, 272.

1396 Econ., et al., passim.

1397 See Fibre 374.

1398 2 Econ. 311.

1399 2 Econ. 311; I Econ. 638.

1400 2 Econ. 222, 227.

1401 2 40 I Econ. 110. ] 2 Econ. 209.

1402 I Econ. 91ff, 150, 314.

1403 I Econ. 153; 2 Econ. 131.

1404 2 Econ. 252; Infin., ch. ii.

1405 Infin. ch. ii. Psychol., passim, Mech.

1406 Infin ch. ii; 2 Econ. 216.

1407 Infin. ch. ii.

1408 2 Econ. 227; I Econ. 592.

1409 2 Econ. 284e.

.1410 See 2 Econ. 314

1411  Fibre 269,290; R. Ps. 498

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