OCR: Conscience

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Wednesday 02 November 2011 Victoria Thomas
Synderesis: the innate `right reason' that gives us knowledge of the basic principles of morality
Conscientia: using the principles of synderesis, this is the ethical judgement which leads to a specific
Id: part of the unconscious personality that is driven by impulses to seek pleasure and satisfaction
Ego: part of the personality that experiences and reacts to the world, as well as meditating between
the drives of the id and superego
Superego: part of the personality that seeks to censor and restrain the ego. Often associated with
feelings of guilt
Heteronymous morality: occurs when the conscience is immature and the consequence of the action
determine whether it is right or wrong (usually between the ages of 5 & 10 years old)
Autonomous morality: when someone is less reliant on the moral authority of people around them
and is able to develop their own perspectives (usually occurs after the age of 10)
For some people our conscience takes the form of guilty feelings for contemplating or performing
wrong actions. For others it is something different, as this quote from Christopher Reeve's explains:-
"I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us. It may be God, I don't know. But I think
that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right
thing to do"
Conscience is something that is intrinsic to our everyday lives. Regardless of what we believe our
nature is, we all use it for making decisions. Individual consciences can choose very different actions
and have very different ethics.
The origin and role of the conscience is something that divides people and something that has been
used to justify some very terrible acts such as, the Holocaust and genocides in Rwanda and Darfur.
People have different interpretations of what is morally right and in many cases they justify their
actions and motivations in this idea of the conscience.
There are many different views of where our conscience, the theories base themselves in
psychology, sociology and genetics.
Views of conscience
A God- given conscience

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Wednesday 02 November 2011 Victoria Thomas
This is the belief that either at conception God gave each person a conscience or that it is imparted to
us at some stage to enable us to discern morally correct and incorrect actions. For some philosophers
it is the actual voice of God that speaks to them through their conscience (Butler, Newman & St
Augustine) and for others it is the ability to determine right and wrong action (Aquinas, St Paul & St
Jerome).…read more

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Wednesday 02 November 2011 Victoria Thomas
Pauls other major contribution was to say that conscience was an awareness of good and bad, but
that it can sometimes be weak and therefore mistaken.
St Jerome was a believer that our conscience enables us to distinguish good action from evil actions.
He saw it as intrinsically important for our moral well- being and for our relationship with God to be
able to discern the leading of the moral way from the immoral (sin).…read more

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Wednesday 02 November 2011 Victoria Thomas
Joseph Butler and intuition
Joseph Butler was a Church of England bishop and theologian who saw conscience as the final moral
decision- maker. Her believed that what made humans different from all other animals was our ability
to reason and to rationalise, which he claimed was the evidence for the existence of the conscience.
"There is a principle of reflection in men by which they distinguish between approval and disapproval
of their own actions... this principle in mans...…read more

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Wednesday 02 November 2011 Victoria Thomas
For Newman following the conscience is following divine law. He thought that the guilt and shame
that we feel when we have made an incorrect choice by ignoring our conscience is the consequence
of not obeying the voice of God.
Freud and guilt
Freud believed that the conscience was a construct do the mind that sought to make sense of
disorder and to deal with the conflict that guilt brings.…read more

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Wednesday 02 November 2011 Victoria Thomas
A good authoritarian conscience provides a sense of security and well- being, as it provides a
structure that we can work within to ensure that both society and we are moral. Fromm's
perspectives on the conscience involved and developed over the years and he began to develop
healthier perspective of conscience. This conscience he saw as the humanistic conscience.
Fromm said that own conscience enables us to access our success as a human by evaluating our
behaviour.…read more

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Wednesday 02 November 2011 Victoria Thomas
They see it as an essential part of humans and therefore what guides humanity in its moral living.
The superiority of conscience
Another criticism of conscience is the level of superiority that seems to be given to conscience. The
actions and leadings of the conscience can be very wrong and its unconditional use can lead to wrong
decisions being made.…read more


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