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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Perfect Man the True Philosopher
By Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772)
From ‘Principia Rerum Naturalium’

BY a true philosopher we understand a man who is enabled to arrive at the real causes, and the knowledge of those things in the mechanical world which are invisible and remote from the senses; and who is afterwards capable of reasoning a priori, or from first principles or causes, concerning the world and its phenomena, both in chemistry, physics, metallurgy, and other sciences or subjects which are under the empire of mechanical principles; and who can thus, as from a central point, take a survey of the whole mundane system, and of its mechanical and philosophical laws. To begin then with man in his state of integrity and complete perfection. In such a man we may conceive to have existed such a complete contiguity throughout the parts of his system, that every motion proceeding with a free course from his grosser parts or principles, could arrive, through an uninterrupted connection, at his most subtle substance or active principle; there being nothing in the way which could cause the least obstruction. Such a man may be compared to the world itself, in which all things are contiguous, from the sun to the bottom of our atmosphere: thus the solar rays proceed with an uninterrupted course, and almost instantaneously, by means of the contiguity of the more subtle or grosser elements through which they pass, through the ether into the air, till they arrive at the eye, and operate upon it by virtue of such connection as if they were present; for contiguity makes the appearance of presence. When therefore the most subtle active principle, by the providence of God, clothed itself with a body, and added by degrees parts upon parts, all the motions in the most subtle elements which were present would necessarily move or affect that most yielding and tender substance, and would gradually impress themselves and their own mechanism upon it. In a word, during the growth of the tender parts possessing motion and life, every motion that was perpetually present must necessarily have left vestiges of itself, and must consequently have naturally formed its own mechanism, so as afterwards to be received still more interiorly, but in the same manner as in the yet tender substances. The man thus formed—in whom all the parts conspired to receive the motions of all the elements, and to convey them successively, when received through a contiguous medium, to the most subtle active principle—must be deemed the most perfect and the first of all men, being one in whom the connection of ends and means is continuous and unbroken. Such a most perfect material and acting being would in a short time acquire, by the aid of the senses alone, all the philosophy and experimental science natural to him; for whatever could present itself to his senses would immediately flow by connection and contiguity to his most subtle and active first principle. As therefore the whole was constructed according to the motion of the elements, and those motions were capable of arriving without interruption, through a medium so contiguous and tense, at the most subtle active principle,—what conclusion can we draw but that such a man must have enjoyed the most complete, perfect, and distinct faculty of reasoning; that all the mundane system or motions of the elements must have been familiar to him after a little contemplation and custom; that every relation of their motions, being impressed upon all his organs as it were naturally and from his tender infancy, would be felt with perfect regularity from his external parts or senses to his soul; and that the soul, being furnished with such a body, would naturally be so well acquainted with geometry, mechanics, and the mundane system, as to be able to instruct herself without a master, from the simple contemplation of the phenomena of nature and the objects of sense? Such a man would be capable of taking his station as it were in the centre; and surveying from thence the whole circumference of his system at a glance, he would be able to make himself acquainted with things present, past, and future, from a knowledge of their causes, and of their contingents given or supposed.  1

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