(1688-1772) Swedish scientist, philosopher and theologian. The first half of his career was devoted to investigations into a number of scientific fields, from mathematics and physics to geology, during which period, in letters written in 1714-1715, and elsewhere, he suggested the possibility of winged flying machines. In 1743-1745 he underwent a visionary experience, after which most of his writings became mystical. These later writings, which influenced the British poet William Blake (1757-1827) and the German idealist philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), and were an important forerunner to the Romantic movement, included Arcana Caelestia (1749-1756 in Latin; trans John Clowes in 13 vols as Arcana Coelestia, or Heavenly Mysteries Contained in the Sacred Scriptures 1802-1816), perhaps his magnum opus, but of no interest in the formation of Proto SF [it is not listed below]; and De Telluribus in mundo nostro solari quae vocantur planetae (1758; trans John Clowes as Concerning the Earths in Our Solar System, Which Are Called Planets 1787) [for full titles see Checklist]. This latter volume, commonly known as The Earths in Our Solar System ... and the Earths in the Starry Heaven [there are many reprints, variously titled, not given in Checklist], describes a visionary Fantastic Voyage around the solar system, which is seen (in part through a system of correspondences) as having a spiritual significance; the book also contains some scientific speculation about the planets. After his death, Swedenborg's followers founded the New Jerusalem Church to promote his doctrines. [PN/JC]
see also: Cosmology; Mars; Mercury; Outer Planets; Religion; Stars; Venus.
born Stockholm, Sweden: 29 January 1688
died London: 29 March 1772
Previous versions of this entry