Information about the author:
Ekaterina P. Zykova
Ekaterina P. Zykova (1954–2018), DSc (PhD) in Philology, Leading Research Fellow, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The balanced and unbiased approach to Fielding’s moral philosophy has long been restrained by two circumstances: first, by the widely-spread belief in Fielding’s lack of deep interest in abstract philosophic ideas, and second, by the view of the author of Tom Jones’ conceptual amorality — the notion going back to the observations of his contemporaries (S. Richardson, S. Jonson) and partly persisting in the 20th-century studies, where it finally lost the quality of a value judgement. The author of the article counterbalances these critical stereotypes with the careful analysis of Fielding’s position taken in the controversy of the opposed concepts of human nature, prevalent in his age (including Shaftsbury’s moral philosophy, Mandeville’s scepticism, and the religious theories by latitudinarian Anglicans and Methodists). The content and sequence of the writer’s religious and philosophic ideas are considered in the article through the study of both his journalism and artistic works, where is also revealed their affinity to the views of latitudinarians and irreducibility to the vague concept of benevolism, raised out of convergence of “egoists” and “altruists” positions in the dispute on human nature. Special attention is paid to Fielding’s interpretation of the concepts of good nature and prudence, reflecting his attempt to bridge the gap between sense and reason in moral issues and showing the importance of the renewed concept of classicist conflict, taking shape in the 18th century literature, for his literary work.