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Religion and ethics OCR A level > Conscience > Flashcards

Flashcards in Conscience Deck (10)
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Conscience - Introduction

>The term usually given to the inner sense of right and wrong
>Discussions about the conscience consider where it is, where it comes from, and whether it can be a reliable source of moral knowledge


Conscience - Biblical passages

>'For I do not the good that I want to do, but the evil I don't want to do' (Romans 7:19) - Paul struggles with how his actions conflict with his inner sense of right and wrong
>'So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them' (Genesis 1:27) - Conscience is an aspect of humanity made in the image of God created with the ability to discern wrong from right


Conscience - Aquinas' theological approach to conscience

>Did not think conscience was an independent special faculty or power capable of telling people what is right and wrong, it is an aspect of human reason
>Reason is what separates us from other animals
>Aquinas believed reason is a gift from God
>Ratio enables us to work things out and make judgements about them - Aquinas used this in NML
>Within each person there is synderesis
>We can cultivate synderesis in ourselves through effort so that it becomes a habit, if we try to do good then our reason will help us
>Consciences are binding because it is wrong to go against reason
>People cannot be blamed if they follow their consciences


Conscience - Aquinas' two kinds of ignorance

>Vincible ignorance - lack of knowledge that the person could have done something about, this makes them blameworthy
>Invincible ignorance - sometimes people act in good faith and follow their consciences but they get things wrong because of ignorance of facts that they could not have known, they cannot be blamed for this
John Henry Newman (to conscience first and pope second)


Conscience - Criticisms of Aquinas

>Aquinas does not take into account the extent to which our moral reasoning is shaped by our upbringing and our society
>The conscience is not the human mind making decisions, it comes more directly from God (Augustine, Butler, Cardinal Newman)


Conscience - Freud's psychological approach

>One of the founders of psychoanalysis, wrote his major works in early 20th century
>The conscience is not rational decision-making but comes from an inner unconscious part of our minds that has been shaped by our upbringing
>Our mind has many layers, not all of which we are aware of
>The way the mind works is closely related to sexuality and the five stages of psychosexual development
>ID, Ego, Superego
>Conscience arises from the interplay of the id, ego, and super-ego.
>Later thinkers such as Erich Fromm developed Freud's ideas and wrote of the mature and immature conscience.


Conscience - Freud - ID, ego, and superego

>ID - powerful part of our personalities, within us from birth. Leads us to seek pleasure and wants immediate gratification
>Ego - manages and guides the ID. Learns from parents and society about what is considered appropriate behaviour. Manages the id's feelings of frustration when immediate gratification is not possible. Acts in some ways as the conscience
>The super-ego - where the mind stores moral teaching and social rules received during upbringing. Religious and moral feelings, as well as conscience, are related to the super-ego


Conscience - Criticisms of Freud

>Does not consider there being any relation between the conscience and God, he dismisses the idea of God without discussion
>Freud puts too much of an emphasis on human sexuality as underpinning every aspect of psychology


Conscience - Aquinas and Freud differences

>Aquinas sees the conscience as the activity of God-given reason, Freud doesn't include the idea of God at all
>A sees wrongdoing in terms of sin and right and wrong in terms of the will of God, F does not have an idea of wrong and right as absolute values
>A = guilt in terms of feelings of being to blame for wrongdoing, F = guilt in terms of internal conflict between aspects of the personality
>A = conscience as the workings of human reason when making decisions, F understands it on a more subconscious level
>A = conscience is morally binding, F = conscience doesn't relate to any kind of absolute right


Conscience - Aquinas and Freud similarities

>An individual making moral decisions
>Conscience can sometimes be in opposition to majority beliefs
>Conscience can be shaped or educated
>Not the direct voice of God
>Guild can be disruptive for humanity