Book 3 Chapter 3 of Tom Jones.

This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones over the course of four years.

In this chapter, we get to meet Reverend Thwackum's philosopher counterpart, Mr. Square. Once again, Fielding shows how he excels at naming his characters.

In this chapter, Square and Thwackum attempt to hash out one of the central questions of the Enlightenment: where does moral goodness come from, if not from religion? You can tell that these two characters are ready to debate this one at a hair trigger, since they were prompted to discuss this merely by Squire Allworthy's refusal to have Tom Jones beaten again in interrogation. Of course, it's the position of the reverend that man's nature has been going downhill ever since the expulsion from Eden, and the philosopher believes that any divergence from moral goodness is inherently against mankind's true spirit.

And yet, it seems like society as a whole hasn't really made much progress beyond hashing out Square and Thwackum's tired arguments over the last two or so centuries.

AuthorMark Turetsky