Drink on, the jolly prelate cries

In Steven Hales (ed.), Philosophy and Beer. Routledge (2007)
David R. Hilbert
University of Illinois, Chicago
The 18th century philosopher and Anglican bishop, George Berkeley, is chiefly known to posterity for advocating the radical thesis that there is no unthinking stuff in the world. According to Berkeley, bar stools, kegs, mugs and the all paraphernalia of ordinary life (plus everything else) are merely ideas and have no existence outside the mind of those seated on the stools, tapping the kegs, and drinking from the mugs. What is less well-known is that Berkeley devoted much of his energy in later life to promoting the use of a concoction he called tar-water for the treatment of a wide variety of health ailments. Fortunately, Berkeley thought that many of the same virtues were found in some beers. It may seem paradoxical that one and the same man could both claim that beer only exists as an idea in the minds of those consuming it and that it could cure all known afflictions. Berkeley's resolution of this paradox will be explored and it will be seen that it is possible to both appreciate and benefit from beer even if it is only an idea.
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