An Answer to Glenn
Thanks for the thoughtful and well-written responses to my blog post 'What is a Person?'.
The New Church clergy view that dead fetuses disappear into nothing is not inconsistent with Swedenborg's writings, as you have so eloquently demonstrated. Neither is the view that I have expressed inconsistent with Swedenborg's writings. This is because much interpolation and extrapolation is needed to arrive at either view from Swedenborg's writings. Until I am instructed otherwise by the angels in the afterlife, I prefer the view that my sister's son, who died due to a miscarriage, has not vanished forever.
I must admit that the title of my earlier blog is a bit misleading. Like you, I did distinguish between potential persons and actual persons. I did not try to prove that a fetus is a person, soul or spirit or that is has a mind, understanding or will. I hope that you will agree that a fetus is a 'potential person' or a 'pre-person'. I appreciate Sue's identifying passages in Swedenborg's writings that mention that a human fetus has 'receptacles' for understanding and will in a way that is different from a cat fetus or a gorilla fetus. A human fetus is a non-person the same way as a chimpanzee fetus is. At the same time, a human person is a pre-person in a way that a chimpanzee fetus is not.
Back to the ineffable human essence. I called it ineffable because It is not defined in terms of the faculties of understanding or will because it has none of these prior to birth. It is the nucleus around which these faculties and personhood accrete. Prior to birth, this essence is a plan or blueprint in God's mind. It is not defined in every detail since God allows freedom of action and the automatic progression of nature to shape destiny. Consider it a broad framework with many possibilities. But God does have a very large, albeit finite, number of such blueprints that have existed in His mind since eternity past. Each of these is a unique potential person. I call these blueprints, these artifacts of Divine Will, human essences since we are not self-subsisting and, before or after acquiring personhood, our individual cores are simply God's will for us to exist as individuals. We are and we have always been individuals because the eternal Lord wills us into being as individuals. We come individual persons at birth.
Since God does not fail in His creative purposes, the demise of a fetus does not mean that the distinct, individual essence or potential person that was mapped into the fetal body simply disappears. It was real in the manner in which the thoughts of God are real, even though it had no thought of its own. Its reality, its essence, which is the Lord's broad framework for its being, is not frustrated by a miscarriage or abortion or ectopic pregnancy. It eventually finds expression by being mapped into another conception-event in this vast physical universe of billions of galaxies. Given that God's plans have a definitiveness (in addition to fluidity) of trajectory, it is quite likely that this will be a conception-event on the same planet. Further, statistically, it is not likely that a potential person will have to endure a large number of failed gestations before it acquires personhood. Note that I am not advocating the theory of reincarnation because nowhere have I said that this essence or potential person is a soul that gets a new physical body after is loses a physical body. Once it is born and breathes, then the physical body it is encased in will be its last. Parenthetically, that does not obviate the fact that it will be associated with a spiritual body after death.
You mention: The human internals mentioned in AC 1999 as being in heaven under the Lord's view are the internals developed by way of reception of both love and wisdom from God through the will and understanding. That is, they exist subsequent to a physical birth, rather than pre-exist a birth which has not occurred.
AC 1999 unequivocally states that the internals are at a level higher than the inmost angelic heaven and are visible to the Lord only . Their existence is not contingent upon the birth-event. The internals in AC 1999 are not the same as the remains or remnants which are impressions implanted by God and the angels during infancy and childhood and which are a resource accessible to human beings. The internals are ineffable because we cannot view or access our or others' internals. Rather, these are the mechanism by which human beings receive life from the Lord. I have used the term essences for these internals because it resonates better with those who are not familiar with the technical vocabulary in Swedenborg (e.g. vastation, correspondence, conjugial, scortatory etc.).
You ask: If a baby that dies within the womb is not gone forever, it must be somewhere. So, where is it?
If you are referring to the fetus' spirit or mind, its does not exist yet. But when we talk of its spirit, what is the 'IT' whose spirit we are talking of?
The fetus' human essence is where your human essence and my human essence are this very moment. This essence is who we are at the core: beings who are not self-subsisting and who exist by virtue of the Lord's will and life. As such it is the channel through which God's life inflows.
You ask: If it is not, has not become or has not acquired 'a spirit', how can it be said to be in the spiritual world?
It is not in the spiritual world per se. It is at a plane higher than the inmost angelic heaven. This is the plane where our essences currently are. This plane is near God but is not God. This is the plane where the essences of beings, good or bad, in the spiritual world are. Note that I am using the word essence for the internals referred to in AC 1999. There is a plurality of human essences or internals, and these are not God Himself.
You mention in your ipso facto line of reasoning: Since there is no person, soul or spirit, there is nothing to survive the demise of the fetus.
It is true that there is no person, soul or spirit. But there is an essence that will 'own' (in clumsy phraseology) the soul or spirit. This essence, this internal, is not the self-subsisting atman of the Vedanta. Not is it a pre-existing substance from which God forges a person. It exists in eternity past only as God's intentional blueprint for the future person. It exists post-gestation as God's will that we exist as individual persons. This essence is the internal in AC 1999 that is above the heavens and near to God. This individual essence is the reason why, as spiritual beings, we are the progeny of God and He is our Father. Our existence, our coming into being, is a consequence of the Divine Will more than the coming together of a particular man and woman at such and such time, and more than the decision of a particular woman to carry us to term.