Conscience - Aquinas and Butler

  • No hebrew word for conscience
  • It does not come up in the gospels 
  • Closest word in Bible may be heart. 
  • The word Synderesis is used in Wisdom to describe human ability to know and choose the good. 
  • Early Church: Augustine says that everyone has a conscience but it is the grace of God that directs it. He is interested in motive as well as the action - they must be of good conscience
  • Aquinas uses synderesis to describe how all people seek to do good and avoid evil (arguably very optimistic view).
  • People seek good but it may not actually be good and Aq acknowledged this. They are apparent goods. 
  • Everyone seeks the good and to sin is just falling short of God's ideals and pursuing apparent goods. 
  • Stressed importance of reason to work out difference between good and evil. (conscientia)
  • We must have synderesis which is the right disposition and conscientia which is the right reason which…


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