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I Mrs. Anne Berkeley writes in a letter to her son, “had he [George Berkeley] built as he has pulled down, he had been a master builder indeed; but unto every man his work: some must remove rubbish, the others lay foundations.”1 Perhaps she wants something like the view on angels in § 81 of the Principles?2 Colin Turbayne takes this to mean the Bishop’s persistent interest in getting rid of the myth of the mechanism and its explanatory potential. He demolished other theories as well, such as materialism, scepticism, and the possibility of abstract ideas. But he constructed too. He built his own world of ideas; yet it is true that his constructions are sketchy. And they did not sell well, if we compare their success with some of the key ideas of Newton, Locke, and Descartes. Somehow such speculations miss the point. Berkeley practiced destructive criticism when he was young, but during his long and isolated years in Cloyne he changed his approach. Siris (1744) is a constructive work.3 He wanted to lay foundations and be a master builder. I find it amazing that Mrs. Berkeley dismisses it, especially because Siris was a popular and successful book in its own time. We can say that the neglect of Siris started early; it was an ill-fated book even when it was still a commercial success. Yet it is an important book.
1. Colin Turbayne, “Introduction to Berkeley’s Works on Vision” (BobbsMerrilll, Indianapolis, 1963), p. XII. 2. The Principles of Human Knowledge, in The Works of George Berkeley, vol. II, eds T. E. Jessop and A. A. Luce (London: Nelson, 1948). 3. Siris, in The Works of George Berkeley, vol. V, 1953.
Revue philosophique, no 1/2010, p. 57 à p. 70
Isaac Newton. and God which are supposed to show all these varied things as essentially connected. It is difficult to say how well he succeeds but anyway he tries his best. p. 70 . But see The Principles. N. tolerate. The point is that Siris has its foundational aspect which deserves our respect. life. even if it criticizes mechanistic explanations and many other things. He goes from the questions of human health and medicine to the problems of theology. except by means of the ambiguation of the borders between science and religion. starting from pine tar and extending to God as a Trinity. namely the ambiguous character of light. 2. a shower of small material particles coming from a source of light. He does it in his metaphysics. Cantor. I concentrate on the final theological sections of Siris where the Bishop discusses the Holy Trinity and some possible metaphysical models of its interpretation. Revue philosophique. NY: Promtheus Books.. 1983). or principles of vegetable life subsist in the light or solar emanation [. Its author wants to build a chain from lower to higher things. Opticks (1730) (Amherst. chap.. but in his own time it is already too late to do so. once we detect and see it.1 As an enlightened man of science Berkeley accepts this physicalistic theory. fire. no 1/2010. according to Sir Isaac Newton. Not much of what he has to say is original as such but his total project and its outlook is novel anyway.2 Berkeley writes: “It should seem that the forms. the world. and spirit as causal instruments in the hands of God (or. In this paper I try to show how he does it. He develops a grand theory of health. 57 à p. light/fire/spirit because all three are basically the one and the same substance). § 27: active principles cannot be ideas. My opinion is that he succeeds much better than those who have read Siris only casually may be ready to admit. Light is. See also G. which in respect of the macrocosm is what the animal spirit is to the microcosm –the interior tegument. and utilize its ambiguity.]. the subtle instrument and 1. souls. The key to successful reading of Siris is to recognize. but he says also that light is God’s messenger and an active principle.58 II Timo Airaksinen Siris contains a constructive theory. Berkeley wants to construct a bridge between science and religion. Optics after Newton (Manchester: Manchester University Press. that is as a plurality in unity. III. 2003). I hope also to throw some light on one of the most important question concerning Siris.
” in Stephen H. the metaphysical view looks.. however. New Interpretations of Berkeley’s Thought (Amherst. physicalistic and metaphysical. 57 à p. almost meaningless. more pure indeed. Revue philosophique.]. The reason seems to be the modern reader’s inability to think in terms of traditional metaphysical and theological terms. He uses his ancient sources extensively in order to make sense of his own hazy intuitions although he never seems to be able to commit himself to their views. more subtle. “The Path of Fire: The Meaning and Interpretation of Berkeley’s Siris. it cannot be itself the principle of motion. the Ancients indicate the right path. Daniel (ed. as this is a moveable.). Light is as well matter as it is a vehicle of the soul and God. but nothing of this 1.]. however. p. Yet. strange and implausible. on the contrary. but leads us naturally and necessarily to an incorporeal spirit or agent. We are conscious that a spirit can begin.Active Principles and Trinities in Berkeley’s Siris 59 vehicle of power” (§ 43). It is a hail of small corpuscles from the Sun (according to physics). and more volatile. T... We see all nature alive or in motion. no 1/2010. This is a difficult thesis to understand and accept. Berkeley talks about light and fire in two different senses. but notice what kinds of things subsist in light: forms. We see water turned into air. and principles (according to metaphysics). 2008).1 In Siris. 261-281. than air. But still. The Newtonian idea of material light sounds so convincing. and consequently a corporeal being [. It seems that Berkeley himself struggles with this hermeneutical problem. NY: Humanity Books. Light is an ambiguous entity. alter. that we should stick to the first scientific and instrumental view and treat the second metaphysical view as an ancient allegory and a figment of imagination. souls. extended. and “light or fire might indeed constitute the animal spirit or immediate vehicle of the soul” (§ 205). Most readers of Siris have said.] by the attraction of another medium. The following quotation shows how deeply ambiguous Berkeley’s text is: “Thus much it consists with piety to say. The soul and its causal effects are carried along by animal spirits which are light and fire particles. and air rarefied and made elastic [.... Nor is this doctrine less philosophical than pious. Airaksinen. and all the members of this visible world. that a divine Agent doth by His virtue permeate and govern the elementary fire or light [. Light brings about changes in the world according to the will of man and God. which serves as an animal spirit to enliven and actuate the whole mass. or determine motion. 70 .
the real ambiguity is between metaphysics or theology and empirical natural science. My point is that when we start from the low end of the chain. we can see better what light/fire/spirit is and why it is such an ambiguous notion. To do so we start from the last pages of Siris. the contrary is evident. both to experiment and reflection” (§ 291). then he says that light/fire is “corporeal being” –which cannot be or contain the principle of motion. God. Nay. from low to lofty themes. Taken together these reveal the ultimate truth. is designed as a chain of arguments which start from tar and tar water and extend all the way to Revue philosophique. In other words. My methodological suggestion is that we treat Siris as a chain of arguments. This is the reason why we need to read the theory of light metaphysically and theologically. for a pious person God is indeed present in light but to a natural scientist light is just another corporeal entity. Siris was of course written in an ascending order. namely. Berkeley did not want to write another book of scientific criticism. In the end of the quotation he takes back his first suggestion. but seems to mean that this is the same as saying that all nature is in perpetual motion. matter seems then to contain the principle of motion.] the elementary fire” and this implicates that light/fire contains “the principle of motion”. This is an implausible view if light/fire is a set of corpuscles in motion. when approached from the high end via God and the Trinity. permeates matter. and read the chain in a descending order.. Does this mean that God permeates the physical world or just the corporeal light particles? But Berkeley is a theist who must keep God and the world separated in a normal dualistic manner. He says that all nature is alive. it is something else. light is material bullets from the Sun. or a Platonic metaphysical form. First he says that God “permeates [. III Siris. 70 . An attentive reader is left baffled.. And this is the consequence: my reading gives us two sets of different results. He really wanted to construct a new metaphysical view of the world. Light/fire/spirit is not only a material thing. which it is. The difficult point is this: If the principle of motion. p. But when we begin from the high end. which then hints at theology. it is also a metaphysical principle. as its name indicates. that God somehow permeates matter. As I said above. no 1/2010. 57 à p.60 Timo Airaksinen appears in body.
Revue philosophique. Eriugena. Animal spirits regulate life. Such a chain goes from God to the highest natural value in the microcosm. and growth. no 1/2010. and air is another instrumental cause which brings about changes in plants and animals. On tar and tar-water. Light works on air which consists of larger particles. see T. 1. It is somehow divine.Active Principles and Trinities in Berkeley’s Siris 61 God. The key value is health which is understood as vitality. even if it is a slim volume. 2006).1 Such a chain is a causal chain because it is created and maintained by God. or panacea. We then enter the microcosm of men and animals. Let us next look at a couple of chains: TWO POSSIBLE DESCENDING CHAINS: (1) (2) God → Macrocosm → Light/fire → Air → Salts → Plants → Tar. “The Chain and the Animal: Idealism in Berkeley’s Siris. and as such it does not belong only to the realm of science. Salts are essential elements of chemistry (dry earth and watery acid). In these two specimen chains God causally influences macrocosm via light/fire as an instrumental cause. The structure of the text of Siris is analogous to the structure of the world –this is the key point which should be kept in mind. Plants form tar and man is able to make tar water which reveals tar’s potential as a universal medicine. Berkeley. But tar is also medicine in chain two which contains the principles of health and vitality. who is pure activity and the primary causal agent. 70 . and the Idealist Tradition (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press. and man’s active soul can command them. which deals with the world and whatever is there. catholicon. In this sense Siris is a comprehensive treatise. Microcosm → Man → Animal Spirits → Health → Vitality → Tar Water. Tar is also an ambiguous entity because it belongs to both chains. p. if we think in terms of natural science. motion. – Any reconstruction of chains like these must be speculative and their details open to disagreement. In chain one tar is a natural element of macrocosm. Here I present two particular chains in a descending order which move from God to tar and beyond. 224-243. Airaksinen. 57 à p. Siris has something to say about theology and God.” in Stephen Gersh and Dermot Moran. vitality.
. the supreme reason. Everything is ambiguous because. For this reason alone we have left philosophical metaphysics behind and moved over to theological speculations. “a chain of philosophical reflexions and inquiries. In Renaissance Platonism such identifications were commonplace.. light. and Soul. Therefore no such thing as one unified and conceptually fixed world exists. Word. We have reached the limit of all philosophy. On the contrary he just picks his own favorite identifications and utilizes them. that there is Father. secondly. and Life. This is nothing new.62 Timo Airaksinen The argumentative outlook of Siris is dependent throughout on such ambiguities. it is at the same time an element of science but also metaphysically dependent on God. that Siris is a chain of chains which can and should be made visible. and lastly. that these bear analogy to the sun. There is first the source of all perfection. in respect of time [. 70 . both Christian and pagan. Revue philosophique. and Love. Egyptians. and justice to execute. Mind. or Fons Deitatis. It all depends on whether we read the chains of Siris in ascending or descending order –as I will try to show below. We are sprung from the Father. there is authority to establish. as an object of thought.]. Berkeley invites us to think and speculate theologically with him. and Spirit. or Farther. Pythagoreans. and that generation was not attributed to the second Hypostasis.” IV On top of the chain Berkeley mentions the Holy Trinity. Everything must be taken by faith. 57 à p. My point is. by Good. and the Holy Ghost which he correlates with other trinities like light/fire/spirit. Intellect. no 1/2010. Son. The author of Siris has not invented anything new. He refers merely to what has been said. and heat. law to direct. and moved by the Spirit. p. He offers no evidence to support such identification. Certainly. and Chaldeans.” This is Berkeley’s summary of certain theological traditions. order. and are otherwise expressed by the terms Principle. Son. Berkeley writes in the end of Siris (§ 362) as follows (this is one of the key quotations from my point of view): “In the administration of all things. by One or to en. irradiated or enlightened by the Son. Berkeley may give such an impression by means of the subtitle of Siris. It is a mistake to think that a single ascending chain starts from tar. even if it remains as a tentative effort. the spirit. as an eternal necessary emanation. the nous or logos. which quickens and inspires. these are the express tenets of Platonists. or logos. but only in respect of origin and order. however.
he can understand that something foundational is needed and God provides it to Revue philosophique. § 366). A possible way of summarizing such a crucial and fantastically complicated paragraph is given by means of my table below. without any tangible quality. what this philosopher in his Phædrus speaketh of the super-celestial region. is of a strain not to be relished or comprehended by vulgar minds.” Now a world beyond sensual ideas emerges. he says.Active Principles and Trinities in Berkeley’s Siris 63 The Holy Trinity is said to be analogous to many other threefold entities. What is real is abstract for a sensual man. § 158). no 1/2010. We find Berkeley mentioning light and spirit but not fire. One would expect that light/fire/spirit correspond with Father/Son/Spirit. but the case is more complicated. however. illumination and light correspond just as movement and heat do. without colour. essence really existent. He used to be one of the “sensual men. In the end. The main problem is. He might very justly conceive that such a description must seem ridiculous to sensual men” (Siris. Instead Berkeley speaks now of heat which of course may be the same as fire. Notice that when we compare columns 1 and 2 below. that of existent essences and intelligible objects –“without color. but when Berkeley moves over to theology he more or less forgets it. but a full-fledged metaphysical world. that Siris introduces first light/fire/spirit as the main instrument of God. and the Divinity resident therein. but. the Bishop widens his philosophical perspectives so that he is able to comprehend the real world beyond perceptual ideas and natural science. 57 à p. We find eight trinities: 1 Father birth Son illumination Holy Spirit movement 2 sun light heat 3 principle mind soul 4 one intellect life 5 good word love 6 authority law justice 7 Fons Deitatis supreme reason spirit Berkeley continues in the end of Siris where he discusses Plato and Platonism as follows: “And. without figure. He realizes that he has no clear vision or view of what there is. to wit. 70 . not the vulgar world of matter and materialism. Light is fire as experiments with a magnifying glass show (Siris. p. without figure. indeed. object of intellect alone. without any tangible quality. Berkeley seems to condemn his own early criticism of abstract ideas and even his immaterialism.” as he so beautifully puts it. This is his grand vision expressed with perfect style and unforgettable beauty.
who brought that art to so great perfection.1 So what is a principle? One of the many meanings of a principle is. fire. In everyday language we normally speak of practical principles as normative rules which guide and regulate our actions and programs. with mercury metal.64 Timo Airaksinen those who are willing to search.]. with earth bitumen. Let us discuss first the concept of a principle. with salts making oil. according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. or the birth of them. and mercury were not just salt. For instance. The Ancient philosophers have made so much progress toward proper metaphysics that moderns should imitate them. and quicksilver as concrete chemical substances but they were their respective principles. Berkeley takes a step toward Platonism and its theory of forms. which is a visible and tangible substance.. The scientific account of the world can never be adequate alone. 1. principles are introduced via Wilhelm Homberg’s chemistry: “Mr. It is much more when seen in the light of metaphysics and theology. 70 . § 335). He also seems to say that light/fire is a principle. sulphur. or that salt is a principle? What is the principle of light and fire? It is their essence and a Platonic idea (Siris. But what do we mean when we say that light/fire is a principle. 1998). holds the substance of light or fire to be the true chemic principle sulphur [. Revue philosophique. For instance we can say that it is the main principle of legislation that justice is done. no 1/2010. sulphur. By introducing it. This mercury is different from what we call quicksilver. V Next. and to extend itself throughout the whole universe. 124ff on Mercurius as the universal agent of transmutation. He says that God is the Principle. “an underlying faculty or endowment. See Lyndy Abraham. p. § 189). is in itself imperceptible (Siris. A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. We know that in alchemical language salt. let us apply the metaphysical view to light/fire/spirit which obviously is not just an object of scientific study. that this principle of sulphur. the famous modern chemist. that mixed with various things it formeth several sorts of natural productions.. 57 à p. Such an extension of the world must be accepted. In Siris. according to Siris.” or ability. or the substance of light. Homberg. It is his opinion that this is the only active principle. mercury is the principle of all metals.
and finally he writes as if it were his own opinion: “But this active element [light/fire] is supposed to be everywhere.” Sulphur does what fire does. On Homberg. 10 (2005). 70 . then again to the ancient authorities. Everything we see around us is ordered and made comprehensible by the light/fire which is God’s active instrument. God is 1. p. as well as to the elements themselves wherein they are produced and nourished” (Siris. any measure which promotes perceptual or mental understanding follows the principle of light.Active Principles and Trinities in Berkeley’s Siris 65 Homberg says that fire. What about the principle of spirit? Whatever animates a being follows its principle. vegetables. If fire is the chemical principle of sulphur. and other natural productions. which is divine fire as a miraculously visible entity. anything that illuminates follows the principle of light. or the substance of light and fire is the only active principle in the universe and it is also the chemical principle of sulphur. we know that the principle of material change is present. If this were not the case.” The conclusion is that light/fire is an active principle or an element which orders and animates the world in a causal fashion. a functional essence. 65-90. God permeates light/fire and His activity is present in it. substance of light. he notices that he first refers to other modern chemists. see Luc Peterschmitt and Rémi Franckowiak. That is what he says. and always present. Berkeley thinks of the burning bush in the desert. or idea which influences its own and suitably restricted realm. But when the reader reads on. and motion to the various animals.” Early Science and Medicine. Revue philosophique. 57 à p. The principle of light is exemplified in all illumination.9 Berkeley explains what Homberg says without committing himself to his views. If the functional essence of light is to illuminate. When we see a flame or feel the heat. But this is not what he says. heat. In metaphysics a principle seems to be. Think of light as a principle. form. This is a strange notion because one would expect Berkeley to say that anything that is an instrument is also in itself passive. where everything is not mere darkness. by definition. § 190). Hence a principle may constitute and causally influence the world. “La chimie de Homberg. no 1/2010. “the whole [world] would be one great stupid inanimate mass. Notice also that Homberg talks about an “active principle” and Berkeley seems to accept this usage. The essence of light is to illuminate and make understandable in that realm where things can be understood. Therefore. this is to say that sulphur is “fiery. imparting different degrees of life.
that heat or fire was the principle of life. Sometime it does so as fire. and held together. Again. by its force. which. fire. In this way light. And it was the opinion of the Pythagoreans. sustained. 70 . till perhaps an accidental spark. sometimes as animal spirits. animation. Here Berkeley utilizes the Stoic view which he regards with great sympathy. As we see. we may legitimately speak of light. a quotation follows: “There is no effect in nature great. p. it is important to notice that fire is not visible culinary fire or a flame. It is a miracle. divide. fire does not only animate things. Yet. my italics). Whenever we see illumination. and motion. and dissolve the smallest. that an active subtle fire was diffused or expanded throughout the whole universe. always depending on the context. 57 à p. fire. life. The exact words do not matter. it can be called a flame and fire in this empirical sense. animates all living things. Visible fire just exemplifies this great and noble principle. it also shakes them. or terrible but proceeds from fire. Berkeley seems to say. If it acts as the principle of fire dictates. Next. at the same time that it shakes the earth and heavens. But perhaps we need not even try because the mere fact that Berkeley quotes them is sufficient to show that he finds them important. that diffused and active principle. and most compacted bodies. calcine. expansion. § 166. § 186). marvellous. Such is the reason why we call a flame fire: its essential effects or actions are of the correct kind. kindles an exhalation that gives birth to an earthquake or tempest which splits mountains or overturns cities. Let us analyze some examples of Berkeley’s text in Siris: “The Stoics also taught that all substance was originally fire. and health. and spirit. as animal spirit. Revue philosophique. when it is found to melt. it is impossible to say how much he actually accepts. the several parts whereof were produced. will enter. my italics). but the principle of fire. from the collision of one stone against another. This same fire stands unseen in the focus of a burning glass. fire is the principle of life and this fire. till subjects for it to act upon come in its way. no 1/2010. and in the burning bush this primordial principle now appears as a flame (Siris. and should return to fire. The partially hidden truth is important. respectively. In remote cavities of the earth it remains quiet. closest. animating the whole system. and spirit stand for their own essential functions or principles whose effects we can observe everywhere. or vitrify the hardest bodies” (§ 158.66 Timo Airaksinen the Principle. and penetrating all the elements” (Siris. and here we can see what that truth may look like. Anyway. as Lairds informs us.
as well as goodness. When we think that God is a Trinity and a free causal principle. and the Spirit animates the microcosm and the macrocosm. and the Holy Spirit with (animal) Spirit –but Berkeley does not do so. light becomes heat and fire. a cause. This distinction is very old. We no longer discuss light as a Newtonian shower of small material particles. instrumental cause to facilitate His free efficient causal agency? He has two separate playgrounds. no 1/2010. Here the Father is fire (fire is the origin of everything). These little things can have no major active role in the world.” Fire is first light. we should be able to understand how He governs everything by means of His instrumental causes which are light and fire. by participation.Active Principles and Trinities in Berkeley’s Siris 67 Interestingly enough. is repeatedly mentioned as the main active principle. or the Principle. and spirit. or the Holy Trinity. The Father alone is mentioned as a principle in our table of trinities above. and. All of them are able to change the world around them by causal means according to their will. fire. and. The main point. as the Schools speak. the Son is light (light is intellect and illumination). Equally old is the idea of the world (macrocosm) as an animal. p. although finite spirits possess some activity as well. Berkeley says that the burning glass focuses light and there “fire stands unseen. All matter is passive of course. the Son with Light. however. microcosm and macrocosm. how does God use light and fire as His secondary. the Son guides. the Father moves. is that God. and the third. and is eminenter. goodness and intellect” (Siris. and I suppose this means an active principle. life essentially. Anyway. Only God is genuinely active. intellect and life. 70 . while the second Hypostasis is essentially intellect. God as the Father is fire. whereof it is the original source. goodness and life. The Father exemplifies Revue philosophique. This fluctuation of essences is understandable only if we think of light and fire under their special principles and not as particular substances. and the Holy Spirit is animal spirits (animal spirits indicate animation and hence life) –such a reading may look plausible but it is not the only possibility. § 352). and when some flammable object enters the focus. Yet he comes close to saying so. by participation. or the principles of light. 57 à p. for instance here: “The first Hypostasis contains all excellence and perfection. VI It is tempting to identify the Father with Fire. but now the question is.
(See the table above. in the International Archives of the History of Ideas (Berlin: Springer). It is now easy to see what the explanatory ambiguity is like. Thus anything or anybody that rules over something is divine due to the participation in this main Principle. and the Spirit have their own principles which define their functional essences: fire. “Berkeley and Newton on Gravity in Siris. Therefore we can say that the cause of the change in question is fire. no 1/2010. Such principles make the Father. In physical language.68 Timo Airaksinen the principle of sun and fire. and the Holy Spirit what they are. when the corresponding Newtonian little light bullets need not be mentioned. My hypothesis is as follows: when something happens in a given causal context. just like his God is One. gravitational force makes the rock fall and the energy of its strike breaks the other rock. the Son. or heat/spirit –when we actually mean the corresponding principles. And those principles can be called active when they are mentioned together with God’s more or less direct influence. of course because only the principle of fire is at work here. or animation). See T. column 2.). It is God’s will that the rock should fall.” in Silvia Parigi (ed. 70 . and measure. George Berkeley: Religion and Science in the Age of Enlightenment. it always happens under the principle of fire. illumination. Example: a big rock falls and smashes another rock. 57 à p. We cannot see any fire here.1 For Berkeley this does not explain anything. VII Once we have come this far.) And the Father himself is the Principle. light. God as the Principle is active. The three principles are one and the three divine aspects which constitute one God are one. or the rule. His functional essence is to rule over absolutely everything –this is His Principle. light. Airaksinen. we can try to understand how light and fire work as instrumental causes. on which everything depends. Any King is divine under such a Principle. or heat/spirit (motion. the Son that of light. They are said by Berkeley to be One. norm. the Father. Therefore. and heat. Revue philosophique. the Father did it by means of fire –this is what Berkeley says. All motion is placed under the secondary principle of fire and the primary Principle the Father. and the Spirit that of heat. p. the Son. and He makes it 1. forthcoming. He says that somehow light/fire explains the event. But then. in a classical manner. light.
Therefore we can say that all events depend on and exemplify the Principle and. This can be said. Yet it seems to me that the logic is as simple as it is impeccable. the three sub-principles. We find the principles of light. or an efficient cause. This is the logic of Berkeley’s Platonic explanatory scheme. And because this Principle is divided into three sub-principles. Does he send a hail of light-bullets from the sun to tear the rock loose and make it fall down? This does not make any sense. all events exemplify one or more of them. It does not matter how the various details are arranged. these principles are the sub-principles of the ultimate Principle. whatever happens in the world exemplifies the principles of light/fire/spirit. Here he uses fire as an instrumental or secondary cause. And as I said above. it is next to impossible to understand what this would mean. So. p. the world and its events. Whatever happens. those of fire. We can of course ask whether this explanatory scheme mentions efficient causes or formal causes. happens because of these principles without which the world would be nothing but chaos. in the sense that whatever happens is explained by the Principle via the various principles which are subsumed under it. and spirit. So. However. 70 . There we find the necessary principles by means of which we can then explain. Moreover. fire. We need to read Siris in a descending order. or both? In his semi-physicalist language Berkeley describes the events of the world by saying that light/fire/spirit are God’s instruments and secondary causes (Siris. § 153-54). and all phenomena of life are dependent on the principle of spirit or the Holy Spirit. We see no fire. is to say that in all events which take place in the world we see His influence. if we read the chain of Siris in the ascending order. all intelligible events take place under the principle of light or the Son. and heat/spirit. The rock falls even if it is dark. Many possibilities exist and the reader of Siris must make her or his own hermeneutical decisions. light. 57 à p. or at least understand.Active Principles and Trinities in Berkeley’s Siris 69 fall. starting from the Trinity. the problem is. how fire moves stones. to say that God is active. what explains the event? The Father is the Principle and all other metaphysical principles depend on Him. or all these events are examples of the application of His Principle. consequently. namely. no 1/2010. To explain an event in the world is to refer to Him because His Principle is exemplified in all change. All motion and change take place under the principle of fire as the Father. In the end Berkeley is a Platonist metaphysician and natural Revue philosophique.
70 . 57 à p.70 Timo Airaksinen theologian. or forms which explain the world. Revue philosophique. Timo AIRAKSINEN. These explanations are not immanently in the world but dependent on God who is outside of both macrocosm and microcosm. no 1/2010. Light/fire may be corpuscular in nature but ultimately we are talking about their functional essences. Helsinki University. principles. p.
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