Swedenborg, Linnaeus and brain research and the roles of Gustaf Retzius and Alfred Stroh in the rediscovery of Swedenborg's manuscripts
2007 (English)In: Uppsala Journal of Medical Sciences, ISSN 0300-9734, E-ISSN 2000-1967, Vol. 112, no 2, 143-164 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 - 1772) at the end of his long life became famous as a visionary mystic and founder of a new religion. However, at younger age, he was recognized as a prominent mining engineer and natural philosopher, particularly interested in geology, mineralogy, cosmology, paleontology and last but not least physiology of the brain. In his Oeconomica regni animalis (1740) and in several posthumously published extensive manuscripts, he described and analyzed e. g. the structural and functional organization of the cerebral cortex, the hierarchical construction of the nervous system, the localization of the cerebrospinal fluid and the secretory functions of the pituitary gland. In these fields, he presented remarkable insights and far reaching conclusions which in some cases have been experimentally verified in modern times. In spite of family relations Swedenborg rarely met the 19 years younger Linnaeus. Linnaeus was not only the founder of the systemic botany but as physician a keen and to some extent original observer of neurological symptoms; one of the first who adequately described motor aphasia. To regard these two men, among the few Swedish authors of the 18(th) century whose names are still internationally well known, as early precursors of neurological research, seems justified. The young Canadian, Alfred H. Stroh (1878 - 1922), had a crucial importance for the research on the works of Swedenborg, and the rediscovery of his manuscripts. His work was supported and financed to a large extent by professor Gustaf Retzius, at that time the most prominent Swedish researcher in anatomy and histology. There are many reasons to be thankful for the important contributions made by Alfred Stroh and Gustaf Retzius to stimulate the interest for Emanuel Swedenborg in Sweden and internationally.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 112, no 2, 143-164 p.
Medical and Health Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-152183ISI: 000253452000002PubMedID: 17578815OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-152183DiVA: diva2:412825