Dreams of a Spirit-Seer/Appendix 4

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Dreams of a Spirit-Seer
by Immanuel Kant
APPENDIX IV.

APPENDIX IV.[edit]

KANT'S PRIVATE AND PUBLIC OPINION OF SWEDENBORG.


The opinion expressed by Swedenborg’s editor, Dr. J. F. Immanuel Tafel, of the University of Tübingen, in the Sammlung von Urkunden, iv., 255, that it was Kant’s fear of ridicule among his philosophical colleagues that led him to affect so trifling an attitude toward an author who had in reality deeply and lastingly impressed him, seems to be borne out by the passages quoted by Tafel from Kant’s letter to Moses Mendelssohn.[1]

Kant on Swedenborg in Letters to Moses Mendelssohn.

From the letter of February 7th, 1766.

“I have sent you by post some ‘Träumereien,’ and beg most respectfully that after retaining a copy yourself, if you so please, you will send the others to the Court-Preacher Sack, to the Councillor of the Consistory Spaulding, to Provost Süsmilch, to Professors Lambert, Sultzer, and Formey. It is a hastily prepared treatise, and presents rather an outline of the manner in which questions of this kind may be treated than the treatment itself.”

From the letter of April 8th, 1766.

“As a matter of fact it would be difficult for me to conceive of a method of so clothing my thoughts that I shall not subject myself to ridicule. It seemed to me the wisest course to take advantage of others and first do the ridiculing myself; and in this I have been perfectly frank since the attitude of my own mind is inconsistent and, so far as these stories are concerned, I cannot help having a slight inclination for things of this kind, and indeed, as regards their reasonableness, I cannot help cherishing an opinion that there is some validity in these experiences in spite of all the absurdities involved in the stories about them, and the crazy and unintelligible ideas which deprive them of their real value.”


Note[edit]

  1. Kants Werke: ed. Rosenkranz u. Schubert: XI. 1, 1842.