Imagining Swedenborg’s HeavenWouter Hanegraaff
Imagining Swedenborg’s Heaven - Abstract
This lecture is about the reception history of Swedenborg and his relation to the arts, and will focus more specifially on the question of what may have motivated so many artists to take inspiration from Swedenborg. Swedenborg’s scriptural exegesis was extremely dry and technical, but his descriptions of heaven and hell spoke to the imagination.
I will begin with a discussion of Swedenborg’s reception by Oetinger and Kant, focusing in particular on the latter’s concept of imagination (Einbildungskraft) and its promotion from a faculty of delusion to a faculty of cognition. The potential for the imagination to reveal true visions of the afterlife flourished in the context of Mesmeric somnambulism in largely Romantic contexts. Remarkably, the noumenal world that had been declared inaccessible for human consciousness, by both Kant and Swedenborg himself, became available as a phenomenal interior world in post-Kantian idealism.
March 31, 2021, 7:45pm CET
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