Emanuel Swedenborg | influence

RW Emerson

The great American moral philosopher, writer and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson composed his essay on Swedenborg as part of his book, Representative Men (1850) thus placing Swedenborg 'or, the Mystic' along side other great men of genius including Montaigne and Shakespeare. This remains an essential text for the study of Swedenborg; Strindberg once wrote, 'When reading Swedenborg, read Emerson alongside'. Indeed, this short work casts a sharp critical eye over the central tenants of Swedenborg's philosophy; Emerson examines the dynamic relationship between Swedenborg's mysticism and his scientific ways of reasoning. Introducing the Mystic also bears witness to Swedenborg's formative influence on American religious philosophy. A friend of Henry James Sr and the founder of the Transcendentalist Movement in America, Emerson believed, like Swedenborg, that there is a divine unity of all things.