The European Enlightenment in the latter half of the eighteenth century heralded a grave conflict between theological and scientific modes of thought, starkly revealing the ancient tensions between spiritual knowledge and rationalism. Yet there was another, lesser-known movement during this time—a “covert” Enlightenment—that sought to bring fresh perspectives on the soul, and by extension, on the human mind and on consciousness. This work examines the influence of Emanuel Swedenborg and Anton Mesmer on the budding movement toward psychology in the late-eighteenth century and also spiritualism and millennialism in the nineteenth century.

About the Author

Dr. Albert J. Gabay, professor in the School of Arts and Education at La Trobe University, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, brings together intellectual and popular currents that influenced generations of people throughout the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centures. He also shows how Swedenborg’s works influenced these movements and was sometimes misunderstood and misappropriated.


“It takes both a keen eye and a broad brush to trace the influence of Swedenborg and Mesmer on the sects of nineteenth-century America. Gabay illuminates both ends of this development and shows how the “covert enlightenment” bore fruits that would have astounded its instigators.”

—Joscelyn Godwin, author of The Theosophical Enlightenment

“This book will appeal to anyone interested in a deeper understanding of the complex forces that created the modern secular world.”

—Allison P. Coudert, Paul A. and Marie Castlefranco Chair in Religious Studies University of California at Davis

About the Swedenborg Studies Series

Swedenborg Studies is a scholarly series published by the Swedenborg Foundation. The primary purpose of the series is to make materials available for understanding the life and thought of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) and the impact his thought has had on others. The Foundation undertakes to publish original studies and English translations and to republish primary sources that are otherwise difficult to access.

Additional information


Alfred J. Gabay





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