Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From Tar-Water to the Trinity

As some of my readers know, Siris takes its name from a work by Bishop George Berkeley, Siris. However, the subheading I use, "A Golden Chain from Tar-Water to the Trinity, With Thoughts Relating to Philosophy, Christian Theology, and the Universe Generally," is not the subtitle of the book. The subtitle of Berkeley's Siris is "A Chain of Philosophical Reflexions and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tar-Water and Diverse Other Subjects Connected Together and Arising One from Another." The "with Thoughts," etc. is simply a description of the content of the weblog. The "from tar-water to the Trinity" does describe Berkeley's work, though; it is due to Horace Walpole. While searching for something else I came across a quotation of Walpole's full statement in Balfour's Essays and Addresses; I paste it here for those who are interested.

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Essays and Addresses By Arthur James Balfour

We shouldn't, by the way, take Walpole's comment about women too much at face value; it is not the only disparagement of the intelligence of women that is attributed to him. As Balfour says for a different case (Queen Caroline's love of Butler's Analogy), "Walpole and his set would certainly be unwilling to believe that anyone, much less any woman,...could find a meaning in abstract arguments which they themselves had never taken the trouble to understand" (p. 92).

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