6.0 A Re-examination of Swedenborg's Journal of Dreams and his Theory of Localizations and of the Functions of the Cerebral Cortex.
I am now to concentrate on a remarkable manuscript of just forty four pages. Known amongst scholars as The London additions to The Brain and referred to as Codex No. 55 in the files of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Stockholm, it was written by Swedenborg during the crucial period of his crisis. This is quite significant because, although considered to be part of his scientific production, there are reasons to believe that its contents fit into the same category of startling anticipations of scientific discoveries recorded in his post-critical production. Wrote Dr. Alfred Acton in 1938:
The doctrine mentioned is none other than Swedenborg's theory of localizations. It emerged under queer circumstances. These have never previously been seriously investigated. Yet, I do think they may be quite significant when contemplated from the angle of the discovery made in the spring of 1973.
The London additions... remained unpublished until Dr. Rudolf Leonard Tafel undertook in 1887 the task of having this brief manuscript printed. At that time it caused real sensation. Apart from the fact that the theory of the pre-eminent psychic role of the cerebral cortex appears propounded in that very paper for the first time in history, which is indeed an objective truth, it was discovered to the neurophysiologists' great perplexity that it also contains a correct version of the so-called theory of localizations. Swedenborg's version of the theory appears formulated as follows:
This faithfully corresponds to the real anatomo-physiological facts about the brain and its motorial control. Both anatomical location and inverted position (correspondence of the higher parts of the cerebral cortex with the lower parts of the body and vice versa) coincide with physical reality (fig. 6.1.1).
What is amazing is the fact that this anticipates a discovery that was to take place much later (by the end of the 19th century), and had to be constructed bit by bit by a series of first-rank neurophysiologists (G. Fritsch, E. Hitzig, V. Horsley, D. Ferrier, C.S. Sherrington and H. Cushing) using advanced methods and techniques. How can this incredible anticipation of scientific facts be explained? This is exactly what Martin Ramström, a professor of anatomy at the University of Uppsala, asked himself.
No wonder Ramström should formulate that query! The sudden emergence of the theory overnight is amazing. But Ramström was not the type of man that could easily be taken aback. Infused with the positivistic spirit of our time, this Swedish professor and anatomist thought he could explain the apparently mysterious origin of the theory. He worked out a monograph on this subject, which he published in medical circles and presented at the International Swedenborg Congress held in London in 1910. However, a critical review of his thesis —which, to my knowledge, has never previously been undertaken— leads to a totally different conclusion. To start with, Ramström thinks that:
Such a solution does not exist! Ramström has operated with several misconceptions. First of all —why should a "most comprehensive and complicated work" be required in the 19th century if the solution was on hand in Vieussens' Neurographia universalis? And should this be true —how could six prominent neurophysiologists (Fritsch, Hitzig, etc.) have neglected so noted and medically popular a treatise as Vieussens'?
There are still further objections. Ramström has granted special relevance to plate No. XVI in Vieussens' treatise. His opinion is that Swedenborg conceived the idea of three 'lobes' by following the upward path of the nerves from the point marked 'K' (fig. 6.2.2); then the downward path which (hints Ramström, although he doesn't explicitly mention it) suggested to Swedenborg the connection of the nerves with the three parts of the body he mentions: head, abdomen and thorax, and the feet. But there are at least a couple of reasons for rejecting these presumptions.
First of all, Vieussens contributes no information from point 'K' of his figure and downwards, that may have put Swedenborg on the track to his theory of localizations. The second objection is still more stringent. It refers to one of the manuscripts Swedenborg never published himself because he was overtaken by the crisis: a paper containing a peculiar fibrilar theory posthumously edited in 1911. Ramström must have been unaware of this theory (his monographic studies on Swedenborg's theories were written in 1909 and 1910). As the theory goes, the path of the medular nerves descending from the encephalus and penetrating into the spinal column is thus described: the fibers originating in the brain penetrate 'indiscriminatingly' into "the posterior portion of the medulla spinalis" (Fib. 109). This idea is completely incompatible with any inference leading to the theory of localizations by the process imagined by Ramström; i.e., by a reconstruction of the downward medular path starting from point 'K'.
Still more striking is the fact that all along his pre-critical production covering about six thousand printed pages, Swedenborg never missed an opportunity to back up his own inferences by quoting those authorities which could offer whatever theoretical or experimental support it might be. His theory of localizations is the only exception. Ramström thinks this was due to the fact that the manuscript contained in Codex No. 55 had not yet been made ready for the printers when Swedenborg gave up his career as a scientist and stopped the further publication of scientific papers. This, however, is an unconvincing argument because at that very time he also wrote about the skin and the sense of touch (table 6.3.1, [B]), and this topic was duly backed by all the critical apparatus of notes and quotations. However incredible this may seem, we are to infer that Swedenborg didn't quote any source of authority to back up his theory of localizations for the very reason that there was none! —at least, not in any normal sense.
The literature available at that time was plentiful but chaotic. It lacked the required degree of accuracy. Swedenborg had indeed access to such works as J.J. Wepfer's Observationes anatomicae ex cadaveribus eorum, quos sustulit Apoplexia, a work that was published in Amsterdam in 1681; or the Cyclopean compendium by Th. Bonet sinisterly titled Sepulchretum, which contains no less than three thousand autopsy protocols, as well as compiler J.J. Manget's Theatrum anatomicum and Bibliotheca anatomica. But actually, neither this literature nor any other then extant, offered modern formulators of the theory of localizations any truly workable basis. In order to reach their respective conclusions, these researchers had first of all to widen the experimental field. Consequently, that literature could far less have served as a basis for Swedenborg's conclusions. On top of this, Ramström incurred a logical flaw similar to a begging of the question, because he says:
In order thus to act, Swedenborg would virtually have had to know the conclusions before these were reached! Somehow, Ramström grew conscious of the fact that something was amiss, and receded in the last moment from his strident 20th-century positivism:
"Work of a genius... guiding threads... concealed within..." —what sort of things are these other than something which cannot be referred to regular sources wherefrom Ramström imagined Swedenborg must have derived his theory?
The Journal of Dreams is the very document —a personal, intimate diary unique in all the world— that covers the full details of the breaking out and evolution of the crisis Swedenborg experienced in 1744. Although scrutinized from the crosswise angles of theology and psychoanalysis, scholars have contemplated it quite unilaterally: it has fundamentally been considered the testimony of a religious crisis. However, an iteration frequency analysis of key concepts renders the results shown in fig. 6.3.1. As may be appreciated, the main bulk rests on references Swedenborg made to a cognitive guidance aimed at scientific goals and problems. In other words: what Swedenborg actually underwent may be defined as a peculiar cognitive crisis. Some background information will serve to further clarify this point.
There is a particular turn in Swedenborg's scientific methodology which clearly shows what it really was that triggered the crisis. To start with, Swedenborg attached too great a trust to the speculative powers of the mind. Yet finally, he realized the empirical shortcomings of such an approach. An elementary process even makes it possible to ascertain the degree of his loss of confidence in the speculative method. We need only to compute how many times Swedenborg used the terms (and their synonyms) 'principle' (= theoretical speculation) and 'experience' (= empiricism) when expounding his methodology. For instance, in two of his main pre-critical works: Principia rerum naturalium... (Pr., 1734), and Oeconomia regni animalis... (EAK, 1740-41). Fig. 6.3.2 shows the results, and these are quite striking. As may be appreciated, from a confidence in speculative science of 6:1 Swedenborg veered in the opposite direction, to advocate experimental science in a 4.75:1 proportion.
* Selection of short illustrative fragments (original descriptions are fairly extensive).Table 6.3.1 PASSAGES SELECTED FROM THE JOURNAL OF DREAMS. Swedenborg was dealing with scientific matters. At a certain stage marked [ A ], he concentrated on the human brain. Attention should be paid to the confidence with which he expected to receive supernatural help in the form of a cognitive guidance.
Then his agonies commenced! And this because of the instrumental limitations of his time, especially in the field of microscopy and, consequently, of microanatomy; and because of the inordinate magnitude of the research he had launched himself into: to explore the human body till the very soul!
Swedenborg spared no efforts to gather as much information as he could, to overcome his time's experimental shortages. This even made him embark on the longest of his foreign journeys: to France and Italy, covering a period of four years (1736-1740). But in the long run he was forced to accept the cognitive limitations regarding known or fathomable objects related to his ambitious research project and —this is what became the actual crisis-triggering factor. Thus, having exhausted all available sources of experimental science and especially those of neurology, he found himself at the end of his run confronting a point of zero vision as exemplified by point 'K' in Vieussens' plate. As a consequence hereof, and contrary to Ramström's opinion, any further steps implied an incursion into meta-empirical territories. And this is where the documentary evidence subsequently discussed becomes significant.
On monday 13th of May, 1744, being in the midst of the crisis, Swedenborg left Amsterdam to travel to London via Harwich. His first annotation in The Journal of Dreams just after crossing the English Channel reads as follows:
This refers to the manuscript filed as Codex No. 55 at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences at Stockholm. That is: to The London Additions to The Brain. Now, regarding the fragments from The Journal of Dreams in table 6.3.1, let's concentrate on those indicated by [ A ]. Said Swedenborg:
Whatever this may imply, Dr. Acton stresses in this connection:
It was roundabout this period when he commenced to experience visions of lights and flames:
That 'certain work' he mentions must in all probability have been The London
Additions to The Brain. We may take it for granted that Swedenborg repeatedly
made references to a supernatural guidance during the period he was
engaged in writing his unique monograph on the brain. This is quite significant.
It means that he knew very well that in spite of Ramström's opinion, available
sources of empirical information were insufficient.
According to my conclusions, Swedenborg's theories contained in Codex No. 55 appeared 'bare' (that is, devoid of experimental references), overnight and —yet— 'complete' (Ramström's expression) because they are items of a seemingly scientific knowledge whose origin is, nevertheless, as mysterious as all the rest of brilliant and baffling anticipations of scientific theories and observations now detected in his post-critical texts.
Codex No. 55 is quite probably a veritable missing link: the first item that connects Swedenborg's post-critical experiences to an inspiration of a scientific knowledge about physical reality.
In the sequel, a paradigmatic example of just another item of this baffling sort
is being presented, but this time stemming from an advanced period of Swedenborg's
postcritical experiences. It was written in 1750 (or 1751 at the latest).
 A. Acton, foreword to Swedenborg's treatise, Three transactions on The cerebrum, Swedenborg Scientific Association, Philadelphia, Pa., US, 1938, vol. I, p. xxviii.
 Prior to any true and scientifically objective organological knowledge, there has always been a tendency to assign a secondary role to the cortical areas of the organs because of the intuitive, but quite often erroneous idea that the central zones must be primordial.
 Translators have rendered as lobe the Latin term curia used by Swedenborg, although it does not conform to the modern notion of cerebral lobe. Professor Ramström clears up potential misunderstandings by stating: "In this anterior region of the cerebrum... [Swedenborg] distinguished three lobes, or so-called curiae, the first one highest up, "in the crown", a middle one below it, and a third one lowest down, i.e., nearest to the fissure of Sylvius." M. Ramström, Emanuel Swedenborg's investigations in natural science and the basis for his statements concerning the functions of the Brain, University of Uppsala, 1910, p. 37. Cf. also fig. 6.1.1.
 M. Ramström, Swedenborg on the cerebral cortex as the seat of psychical activity, in Transactions of the International Swedenborg Congress, The Swedenborg Society, London, 1912, pp. 67-68.
 Cf. also Fib. 115.
 M. Ramström, Emanuel Swedenborg's investigations in Natural Science and the basis for his Statements concerning the Functions of the Brain, University of Uppsala, 1910, p. 49.
 Cf. AK I, 19.
 The so-called Marginal notes (cf. A. Acton, An introduction to The Word Explained, Academy of the New Church, Bryn Athyn, Pa., US, 1927, pp. 83-84).
 A. Acton,
Op. cit., p. 84.