A new friend of mine recently told me, without hesitation, that “Sentimentalism can overshadow truth.” He said it so effortlessly and without a pause for objection or response that I wrote it down to take time to dig into this thought further. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines sentimental as showing feelings or emotions especially in an excessive way. I researched further to find the philosophy of moral sentimentalism which is defined from the Stanford Encylclypedia of Philosophy…
For moral sentimentalists, our emotions and desires play a leading role in the anatomy of morality. Some believe moral thoughts are fundamentally sentimental, others that moral facts make essential reference to our sentimental responses, or that emotions are the primary source of moral knowledge.
I am not against reminiscing the “old days” but the habit of hanging our morality on a feeling sounds dangerous. I look back with gratefullness on many emotion-filled moments with our family, our church and friends but can I trust what I feel more than the truth? Is truth simply what we feel at the moment? Can every person decide what moral code they believe in simply by how they feel?
My friend is not a prophet but he is a wise deep artistic thinker who embraces his emotions. Maybe he has found that emotions can sabotage truth. Like the painted sign in the London subways says to “Mind the Gap” we also must watch for the slippery slope of allowing our emotions to overshadow truth. As I look at my own journey to know and understand truth I am more aware of the danger of trusting my feelings to guide my morals.
Psalm 25:5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.