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Science

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[1 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Wisdom, apparent, of the learned" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "Conjugial Love": detail "Section 232"
After some time I heard again from the lower earth voices exclaiming as before, "O how learned! O how wise!" I looked round to see what angels were present; and lo! they were from the heaven immediately above those who cried out, "O how learned!" and I conversed with them respecting the cry, and they said, "Those learned ones are such as only reason whether a thing be so or not, and seldom think that it is so; therefore, they are like winds which blow and pass away, like the bark about trees which are without sap, or like shells about almonds without a kernel, or like the outward rind about fruit without pulp; for their minds are void of interior judgment, and are united only with the bodily senses; therefore unless the senses themselves decide, they can conclude nothing; in a word, they are merely sensual, and we call them ‘reasoners’. We give them this name, because they never conclude anything, and make whatever they hear a matter of argument, and dispute whether it be so, with perpetual contradiction. They love nothing better than to attack essential truths, and so to pull them in pieces as to make them a subject of dispute. These are those who believe themselves learned above the rest of the world: for they never think on any subject that it is so, but only whether it is so, and dispute about it; and when the thinking principle proceeds no further than this, they appear only to tread and trample on a single clod, and not to advance.
 After hearing the arguments [of the ‘learned’], I said to them, “There is no character you deserve less than that of being learned; because all our thoughts are confined to the single inquiry, whether a thing be, and to canvass each side of the question. Who can become learned, unless he know something for certain, and progressively advance into it, as a man in walking progressively advances from step to step, and thereby successively arrives at wisdom! If you follow any other rule, you make no approach to truths, but remove them more and more out of sight. To reason only whether a thing be, is it not like reasoning about a cap or a shoe, whether they fit or not, before they are put on? and what must be the consequence of such reasoning, but that you will not know whether anything exists, yea, whether there be any such thing as salvation, or eternal life after death; whether one religion be more efficacious than another, and whether there be a heaven and a hell? On these subjects you cannot possibly think at all, so long as you halt at the first step, and beat the sand at setting out, instead of setting one foot before another and going forward. Take heed to yourselves, lest your minds, standing thus without in a state of indetermination, should inwardly harden and become statues of salt, and yourselves friends of Lot's wife."


[2 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Aristotle" (search under Outer Life/People, Places, History)": source "Spiritual Experiences, vol.3": detail "Section 3948 - 3955"
Moreover, there were two overhead speaking with me, and I was told and realized that it was Aristotle and another, whom it was not given to recognize. He spoke quite clearly, like one who had been in the spiritual world for a long time. I spoke now with him, now with those who were at the left ear, and of course about these matters. From this conversation it was soon evident that Aristotle had not been of the same character as his followers, who reasoned philosophically from his books, but that he was of a different character than they.
 Aristotle was then let into the state in which he had been when he first arrived in the world of spirits, but I wondered at the fact that he applied himself to the right ear, not to the left, where he also spoke hoarsely, but sanely. I clearly realized that he was entirely different from his followers, in that he concluded from his own thinking the things he wrote, so that his philosophy proceeded from his thinking, which he described, so that his terms were simply the words by which he described the field of thought he had explored. Thus he proceeded from thoughts to terms, that were later called scholastic, and by which his philosophy is characterized. I also realized that he thought from the delight of affection that prevailed and aroused him to thinking, so that it was his nature that he thought from feeling, and thus moved by delight, described his thoughts. Therefore he was at the right ear.
 But his followers did not go from thought to terms, made into a science, but from such learned trivia, to thought—thus from darkness and dead things, to the light of thought, in which they then do not find light but darkness, nor thought but something lumpy and confused. From this they go to delight, which cannot exist with such minds except from a certain feeling that is not affection and thence the delight of thinking, but an external desire, such as the desire for reputation, and still more grossly, for distinctions above others acquired in various ways, or for profit—all of which mean nothing to those who think from affection and are thereby stirred with delight, and develop and produce such philosophical thought. This was the reason why Aristotle was at the right ear, and the rest at the left.
 I spoke with Aristotle when he was overhead, saying that a little boy could speak in the space of a half hour so philosophically, analytically, logically that Aristotle would be unable in many volumes to describe all his philosophical, analytical and logical secrets, and yet the child knows nothing of that ability.
 For example, a dancer is able to move his joints together with all his bodily members artificially, as if they were moving spontaneously, coordinating his breathing with the least movements, which, if scrutinized individually as to their origin and operation, by an examination of the tissues running together from the brains, through the motor fibers, the muscles of the diaphragm, the breathing of the lungs, and the contributions of them and of the rest of the internal organs, they cannot be described in volumes—and yet he knows how to dance, without a deeper knowledge of those things. Such also is the case with the philosophy of such things, which are of no use except for the sake of delight. Aristotle highly approved, saying that it is so, and now, that such things are useless and futile, and like dust that should be completely discarded, because it entirely obstructs the sight with heaps of earth and blinds the eyes when they proceed in that backwards order, trying to think from the artificial, whereas the thought extends to such artificial things as are seen by the thought, but the thought is not from the artificial things. These are the words of Aristotle, who adds that if anyone wishes to be foolish, let him go about it in this way.
 When he was asked how he had conceived of the supreme deity, there appeared to me Someone up above at the left, with a human face, and girded about the head with a kind of radiant circle. It was said that he had had a mental image of God as being such, and had so conceived of Him, that having thought of God in this way, he consequently had had some idea of the Lord, Whom he now, like all good spirits, confesses, saying that He governs the universe, for he who governs heaven rules the universe—the one cannot be separated from the other. These also are his words.
 A woman appeared to me, stretching out her hand, wishing to stroke my cheek. As I wondered what this could mean, I was told that such a woman had appeared to him at times, when his eyes were closed, who stroked his cheek, whose hand was lovely, and I spoke with angelic spirits about her, who told that such women are what were called Pallases—not Minervas, but Pallases—and that they were spirits of that time, and of times more ancient, who delighted in mental imagery, like spirits, who gave themselves up to thinking, as is well known concerning the Stoics, and others, for in times gone by they could think much better without philosophy, and so were able to associate somewhat with spirits. Those spirits were delighted with Aristotle, because he thought rightly, for which reason such a woman was sometimes portrayed to him, who stroked his cheeks. The woman was a portrayal by male spirits who were around him and had him as their medium. So the woman was not a spirit, but was the portrayal of a woman, such as I had experienced earlier.
 It was shown how such spirits controlled him by the fact that when he tried to speak with his woman, whose hand he had so often seen, she at once turned away, saying that he should not touch her. Something was then seen to attach itself to his back, and then took hold of him, which was a portrayal of how such spirits controlled him, for to be attached to the back is to command.
 What kind of mental picture he had had of the soul or spirit, which he called pneuma, was vividly demonstrated, for he was made to look like the mental image he had had, namely, something almost invisible, but something ethereal, moving together in waves, or hovering. Such was his mental image of the spirit. He says he had known that his spirit would live after death, because it is his inward essence, which could not die, because he was able to think, but that he had been unable to have a notion such as he now enjoyed, only that he thus conceived of the general element of thought as a kind of breath that blew with a certain motion. About its life, he said he had not specifically thought. These are the words of Aristotle.
 Aristotle is, moreover, among the sane spirits, while his followers are among the foolish.