Biblical v. Secular Ethics is edited by R. Joseph Hoffman and Gerald A. Larue and is published by Prometheus Books, NY, 1988. The book is composed of papers read at the Second International Symposium of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER) in 1986. CSER is a committee associated with Free Inquiry magazine, a secular humanist publication. There are fifteen essays in the book produced under the auspices of CSER'S Biblical Criticism Research Project. The book is edited by Joseph Hoffman, Senior Lecturer in the Division of History of Christianity at La Trobe University (Australia), and Gerald Larue, Professor Emeritus of Archaeology and Biblical History at the University of Southern California and Chairman of CSER.
The objective, as I understand the editor's invitation to me to write something in remembrance of Beryl Briscoe, was to appeal to my memory in that regard. Since Beryl resigned her place as treasurer of the Swedenborg Scientific Association about thirty years ago, and the author of these remarks is over eighty, remembrance can be fraught with problems. Anyway, Beryl was part of a triad consisting of two persons and a library. The other person of course was Dr. Acton, and "Room 17" was the way Swedenborgiana was referred to, Room 17 being the room in the Academy library that contained Swedenborgiana. The most important part of that collection of books (that with great care had been obtained over the years from booksellers in Europe) was the copies of books of the same edition, where possible, that had been in Swedenborg's own collection.
Beryl Briscoe was a woman of parts—many parts. I have realized this more vividly since her passing, as many friends have expressed surprise at something they have just learned about her. It's unfortunate that they knew so little about her, because she had a remarkably active and interesting life and personality.
Aristotle distinguished between two kinds of men with regard to wisdom. There are those who are wise because they invent and make useful things and those who are wiser for "having...theory for themselves and knowing causes" (ibid., 982b 15). Because of the practical projects in which he was engaged and his activity with inventions, Swedenborg belonged to the first class. But by publishing The Principia he also became a member of the second class. Nevertheless, as early as 1717 he wrote a few pages on "The Causes of Things." By 1734 when he published The Principia, he had written but not published a number of essays that indicate a strong philosophical tendency.