Religion in the Age of Enlightenment


Patrick Mello


Religion in the Age of Enlightenment, Review, Joseph Duke Filonowicz


In his Fellow-Feeling and the Moral Life, Joseph Duke Filonowicz challenges readers to modify the premises underlying much moral philosophy since Kant by considering with open minds whether human beings possess an innate moral sense. Despite the systematic logical satisfaction achieved by ethical rationalism, Filonowicz argues that the dogged adherence to reason reduces morality to a mere set of anemic thought-experiments having little to do with the actions undertaken by people living emotionally complex lives. Modifying rationalism, Filonowicz finds inspiration from a notion expressed in Henry Miller's Black Spring, that "what is not in the open streets is false, derived, that is to say, literature" (11). Filonowicz reads Miller as suggesting that the day-to-day actions of people living in the world tell us far more about morality than any theory formulated in a sterile lab of rational speculation. Filonowicz situates his work as reviving the short-lived tradition of the moral philosophy delineated by Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith.