Ethan A. Hitchcock's vergelijking van Spinoza en Swedenborg [Vervolg 1]

Het vorige blog introduceerde, “Ethan A. Hitchcock (1798 - 1870) VS-Legergeneraal verdiepte zich in Spinoza en Swedenborg.” Diens vergelijking van Swedenborg met Spinoza is best wel uniek. Bij de Duitse Spinozabibliografie wordt op ’t zoekwoord ‘Swedenborg’ alleen Hitchcock’s werk getoond. Hoewel er uiteraard zeer grote verschillen bestaan tussen Swedenborg en Spinoza heeft Hitchcock frappante overeenkomsten kunnen aanwijzen die aannemelijk maken dat Swedenborg flink wat aan Spinoza heeft ontleend en dus veel studie van Spinoza moet hebben gemaakt. Voor ik in een volgend blog een gedeelte van Hitcock’s tekst breng, citeer ik eerst het volgende over zijn eerste vergelijkende studie, die hij vervolgens verwerkte in het 12e hoofdstuk van zijn Swedenborg, a Hermetic Philosopher:

"The Doctrines of Spinoza and Swedenborg Identified, in so far as they claim a Scientific Ground," published in 1846. Hitchcock had been a careful student of Spinoza, and was well versed in the writings of Swedenborg, neither of whom he assails or defends while pointing out some very remarkable resemblances between them. He quotes largely from both, showing almost an identity in their doctrines and principles, especially of God, of knowledge, and of salvation: yet, strange to say, the Swedish philosopher, who borrows without credit much of his ethics from the anathematized Jew, has been held up by many good men as expressly illuminated for the teaching of the true Christian religion and for founding the Church of the New Jerusalem, while his theological prototype has been reviled as the veriest atheist the world has produced. In a private letter to Hitchcock of Dec. 25, 1846, Theodore Parker says of this parallel: "I have long been aware of a certain union in their ideas of God, and of his immanency in matter and spirit; only I thought Spinoza perhaps the more rational of the two in that matter, though I think both make the world a sort of Dutch clock. I never thought the similarity extended as far as you have shown it does. Henry Heine, the wittiest and wickedest of modern writers, says that many a philosopher when walking in a deep forest of thought has fancied he was treading new ground, original and all alone, when suddenly he has found himself confronted face to face with the awful features of Benedict Spinoza. I think you have shown that Swedenborg must have had Spinoza upon his mind when he wrote. It is impossible that Emanuel should have omitted to read Benedict, for he read everything and reveled in the mystics, old, middle-aged, and modern. I like your view of Swedenborg. He was a great man, and is made ridiculous when men worship him and stop not at his limitation. I reverence his genius most profoundly, as I do that of Spinoza, though I worship neither. . . . I hope justice will be done at length to both Spinoza and Swedenborg, and I thank you for writing this little tract to show this agreement in their Scientificals."


Uit de Biographical Sketch of Ethan A. Hitchcock in: George W. Cullum's Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates  of the United States Military Academy [cf.]