John Henry Newman
- Anglican Theologian
- Believed the conscience to be a voice of God within each of us
- Stern monitor of human behaviour, not something to be obeyed to receive an ultimate reward from God
- Conscience has the main authority over the Church
- J.H.Newman - 'An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent':
'It is a moral sense, and a sense of duty; a judgement of the reason.' '...not as a rule of right conduct, but as a sanction of right conduct.'
- Bishop in the Church of England
- An intuitive divine voice that has absolute authority
- God given, encourages humans to act altruistically rather than selfishly when weighing up all factors in a moral decision
- 'It is our natural guide'
- Joseph Butler - 'Five Sermons':
'There is a principle of reflection in men by which they distinguish between approval and disapproval of their own actions...this principle in man...is conscience.'
St. Thomas Aquinas
- Enables humans to act upon an innate knowledge of morality
- Ability to apply reason to moral decisions
- Process of reasoning, discovered by humans, not always fully understood which is why people get it wrong, judgements can be clouded by selfish passions
'To disparage the dictate of reason is equivalent to condemning the command of God.'
- Voice of God which only reveals itself in solitary moments
- A blessing from God, liberates humans to follow the path to spiritual freedom
- Humans will feel inadequacy when this happens as God is divine
'...men see the moral rules written in the book of light which is called truth.'
- Founding father of psychoanalysis
- The conscience is a guilt complex, it is acquired and developed
- The psyche develops from a child’s need for love and affection, if a child does something which is not morally approved then it doesn’t receive this love, therefore it learns what is morally accepted and what is not.
- A person goes through 3 stages in their lives, ‘id’ where they just do what is instinctive to them, ‘ego’ where they are aware of themselves but are selfish and ‘super-ego’ where they begin to make real moral decisions based upon societies’ expectations.
- Conscience is an aspect of the operation of the super-ego
- Developmental Psychologist
- Conscience is instilled by parents, has to be acquired and developed due to cogniitive
- Sociologists propose that the concept of conscience is significantly reinforced by upbringing and influences we have in our early years.
- There are two types of morality: ‘heteronomous’ and ‘autonomous.’ Heteronomous meaning morality is defined by others and autonomous where morality is defined by our own self conscience
- Criminals occur when people are stunted in their growth from heteronomous to autonomous.
- When morality is defined by others it means by authority such as police, teachers and politicians.
- Conscience is instilled by society – a social consciousness
- ‘From birth, humans are reduced to a state of obedience to forces we cannot see.’
- Human conscience leads to rebellion
- ‘Human history began with an act of disobedience.’ – the garden of Eden
- New Testament Writer
- Conscience is within the centre of the soul
- God given but discovered by humanity
- Inherent in all humanity, corrupted by the fall, redeemed by God through Jesus Christ
- Romans 2:15 -
'They can demonstrate the effects of the law engraved on their hearts to which their own conscience bears witness.'