Swedenborg and the Body: anatomy, alcohol and the soul

Swedenborg House, 20 Bloomsbury Way, London

Event location:
Swedenborg House Bookshop, 20 Bloomsbury Way Bloomsbury WC1A 2TH
When:Event passed!
It was on
Sat 4th May 2019

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Workshops & Talks
Where:Swedenborg House, 20 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH
Map:Map & Nearby
Times:13:30 - 17:00

About the event

The body in the 18th and early 19th centuries was subject to intense debate and study, with scholars and laypeople alike engaging with discourses around Cartesianism, anatomy, temperance and more. Swedenborg and those interested in him were no exception. On Saturday 4 May we will be delighted to welcome three academics to Swedenborg House for a symposium on ‘Swedenborg and the Body’. The theme of the body brings together philosophy, medicine, morality and madness, issues which were prevalent then yet still resonate today. Over the course of the afternoon, Vincent Roy-Di Piazza, Professor David Dunér and Dr John Lidwell-Durnin will speak on topics touching on the role of the body in Swedenborgian thought. Their work will be significant for scholars of the 18th and 19th centuries, those working on the history of medicine and anyone interested in Swedenborg’s life and influence. This event will bring together international academics from Oxford and Lund Universities with the London community and members of the Swedenborg Society. Attendance is free, and all are welcome.


1.50 pm: Stephen McNeilly (Swedenborg Society)

2.00 pm: Vincent Roy-Di Piazza (Linacre College, University of Oxford)
‘Demonstretur animae immortalitas’: the evolution of Swedenborg’s theories on soul-body interaction

2.40 pm: Refreshments

3:00 pm: Professor Dunér (Lund University)
Swedenborg’s Lost Dreams: the Mind-Body Problem and the Italian Journey 1738–1739

3.40 pm: Dr Lidwell-Durnin (Linacre College, University of Oxford)
Spirit, Madness, and the Body: Swedenborgianism and the Temperance Movement in Early Nineteenth Century America

4.20 pm: Closing drinks


‘Demonstretur animae immortalitas’: the evolution of Swedenborg’s theories on soul-body interaction—Vincent Roy-Di Piazza
Emanuel Swedenborg had a lifelong interest in soul-body interaction, from his very first essay on the subject published in 1718 to one of his final works fifty years later, De Commercio Animae et Corporis (1769). In De Infinito, he stated that ‘to demonstrate the immortality of the soul to the senses themselves’ was one of his main goals. Why was the theme of soul-body interaction of such importance for Swedenborg, through both his natural philosophical and theological writings? How did his theories on the subject evolve through his works? I will show how soul-body interaction relates to the development of Swedenborg’s doctrine of correspondences, and how it became an abridged counterpart of the much bigger interaction between spiritual and natural worlds.

Vincent Roy-Di Piazza is a DPhil student in History of Science and Medicine & Economic and Social History at Linacre College, University of Oxford. Vincent previously graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS Ulm) in history and philosophy of science, the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE) in religious studies, and the Sorbonne in Nordic studies. A Humanities Research Council funded student, Vincent is the current Gilbert Ryle scholar in Philosophy of Science at Oxford and doctoral scholar of the Swedenborg Society.

Swedenborg’s Lost Dreams: The Mind-Body Problem and the Italian Journey 1738–1739—David Dunér
On his European Journey 1736–1740, Emanuel Swedenborg stayed in Venice and Rome preparing and writing a work on the anatomy and physiology of the human body. He stayed four months in Venice working on a volume on the human brain, and then six months in Rome. On his return to Sweden he published in Amsterdam the two first volumes of Oeconomia regni animalis (The Economy of the Animal Kingdom, 1740–1741). This talk recapitulates Swedenborg’s Italian journey, tries to reconstruct where he went, what he saw, who he met, and what he worked on.

Official Link: http://www.swedenborg.org.uk/events/talks_readings/4_may_2019_swedenborg_and_the_body_anatomy_alcohol_and_the_soul

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