Ethics: Conscience- Freud and Aquinas

Aquinas and Ratio
ratio means reason. this is placed in every person as a result of being created by god. in the case of conscience this is reason of the practical sort, requiring careful judgements of individual circumstances.
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Practica ratio
the use of reason in practice, which inevitably is always situational in application. it entails not merely being able to know what should be done, but also the practical way of thinking through how it can be done.
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Aquinas quote on prudence
'prudence entails not only consideration of the reason but also the application to action, which is the goal of practical reason'.
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Aquinas' view of conscience
similar to Flethcer's 'verb', but richer. it continues by considering the ways in which we make judgements not just about the actions we are now to do, but also those we have done (or not done).
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an inner principle, implanted by god in all persons, directing a person towards good and away from evil.
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A person's reason making moral judgements. in general, the conscience, but in Aquinas used to distinguish individual acts of conscience- in which we may be mistaken- from infallible synderesis.
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Aquinas on synderesis
synderesis is the natural inclination to do good and avoid evil, a desire which is universal, infallible and part of god's will for the creatures he created. the infallibility of synderesis is self evident for aquinas: doing good over evil never wron
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Aquinas on conscientia
just because we have the desire to do good over evil, it does not follow that this infallible desire leads to right action. conscientia is the name aquinas gives to the intellectual process of forming our paricular moral judgements in individual
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Aquinas on conscientia cont
circumstances, which of course includes the skill of prudence. here, errors can be made, either because we are mistaken about the facts of the case or for some other reason, perhaps we are blinded by desires, feel pressures from outside or too hasty
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A theological account
This distinction between synderesis and conscientia is valuable for considering whether we should see aquinas as essentially theological in his approach to moral questions.
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Vincible ignorance
ignorance which we could easily overcome and for which we are blameworthy. if i ask to be excused for my bad driving because i didn't know what i was doing, because i was drunk, that is really no excuse and adds to the offence
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Invincivle ignorance
ignorance which cannot be overcome by my own efforts for which i cannot be blamed
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Aquinas' view on ignorance
A court would not take a driver, who uses drunkenness as an excuse for bad driving, seriously. But if i gave someone a holiday as a gift, and they died in a plane crash, i would feel guilt. but no reasonable person would hold me blameworthy
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Forms of invincible ignorance
being insane, we cannot (usually) hold an insane person responsible for their actions. or somoene who is too young to know right from wrong. or even as an adult, we may not have all the facts needed, and with good intent, cause something bad, regret
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The demands of conscience- Aquinas
1. we should always seek what is good and are naturally inclined to do so (synderesis) 2. reason decides what is good. 3. part of the definition of good is rationally chosen. 4. therefore, what our reason (which can be wrong) tells us is good is the
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The demands of conscience- Aquinas cont
good to be pursued. 5.therefore, if we do not follow our reason, we are seeking something wich our reason tells us is not good. 6. therefore, we must always follow our reason (otherwise called conscience)
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Freud on the conscience
conscience was essentially the process of internalising parental prohibitions and demands, so that they seem to come from within ourselves. this experience creates an aspect of our minds known as the super-ego
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the part of the psyche which is the internalised voice of our parents and other authority figures: creates tention with ego and id. it contradicts the id and, by working on internalised ideals from our parents, it tries to make the ego behave morally
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the basic self and its drives-for food, aggression, and sex. the baby only has id. it refers to instinctive impulses that seek satisfaction in pleasure
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the idea of the rational self, cpable of exercising some control over the id, primitive self. it mediates between the id and the demands of social interaction
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Id and libido
the libido (sex drive) is a fundamental part of the id for freud. he believed that children were sexually driven, eg breast feeding, controlling bowels, and noticing sexual organs.
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Psychosexual development
for Freud, we are innately sexual beingss wh og through various stages of development, which he calls oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital. by the time of puberty, a child will have gone beyond being all id and libido
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Ego and super-ego
the ego is rational unlike the id. freud gives the analogy of the horse and the rider. the rider (ego) controls the horse(id) sometimes control may fail and the horse will go its own way, over harsh terrain. the ego also has to battle the super-ego
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Super-ego's role
the ego can tends to be more loyal to the id when the battling occurs e.g avoiding conflict, excusing problems. but the super ego watches the actions like a hwak and punishes with feelings of anxiety, inferiority and general guilt.
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ego's defence mechanisms
fantasy, rationalisation, repression and others, but the ego is in a continual battle with the id (and libido)
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Oedipus complex
Freud's notion, borrowed from greek legend, that boys for inherited reasons subconsciously wish to sleep with their mothers and kill their fathers. this is rejected by many psychologists, for its shaky historical basis and for its explantory power.
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Freud on the environment and god
Freud suggested that the primitive humans were always living in fear of a nature that rose up against them. he then suggests that he have a desire to explain things. therefore he suggested that we imagined the idea of god so that we could explain it
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post hoc, propter hoc fallacy
' after this, because of this' the logical error of thinking that because an event follows another, that the latter event was necessarily caused by the former. Freud suggests that respites in natural disasters being caused by prayer is logical error.
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Hick's response
He argues that Freud might-inadvertently-not have explained God away, but rather shown how the experience of nature might be a way of god revealing his power and his connections with the human.
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Freuds explanation of a father figure
as babies we are dependent for our thriving on our fathers who provide the means for us to grow. this makes him a distant but powerful figure, who we depend on. he is a figure of authority that sometimes visits our cot. absence after= universe father
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Link to Feuerbach
he believed that god was a projection of human mind. with give our ownvalues cosmic significance. although not atheist, his theory developed the idea of wishful thinking.
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Criticisms of Freud- evidence
many psychologists and others argue that freud developed thoeries on very little empirical evidence. there is no evidence of the primal horde. which he bases the oedipus complex on. and there is no certainty of collective unconsciousness.
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Criticisms of Freud- Karl Popper
he argued that most psychology was not scientific as it involved hypotheses that were not falsifiable- it is not possible to say precisely what would prove them incorrect.
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Practica ratio


the use of reason in practice, which inevitably is always situational in application. it entails not merely being able to know what should be done, but also the practical way of thinking through how it can be done.

Card 3


Aquinas quote on prudence


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Card 4


Aquinas' view of conscience


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