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  #1  
Old Aug 21, '10, 7:50 am
sinnerdexter sinnerdexter is offline
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Default What is your conscience

Many small children are familiar with the story of Jimmy Cricket who tells Pinocchio always to let his conscience be his guide. The wisdom of this advice hits people as they grow older.

So "What is your conscience?"
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  #2  
Old Aug 21, '10, 8:09 am
teachccd teachccd is offline
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Default Re: What is your conscience

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:


I. THE JUDGMENT OF CONSCIENCE
1777 Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.


1778 Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law:
Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise. . . . [Conscience] is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.


1779 It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience. This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection:
Return to your conscience, question it. . . . Turn inward, brethren, and in everything you do, see God as your witness.


1780 The dignity of the human person implies and requires uprightness of moral conscience. Conscience includes the perception of the principles of morality (synderesis); their application in the given circumstances by practical discernment of reasons and goods; and finally judgment about concrete acts yet to be performed or already performed. The truth about the moral good, stated in the law of reason, is recognized practically and concretely by the prudent judgment of conscience. We call that man prudent who chooses in conformity with this judgment.


1781 Conscience enables one to assume responsibility for the acts performed. If man commits evil, the just judgment of conscience can remain within him as the witness to the universal truth of the good, at the same time as the evil of his particular choice. The verdict of the judgment of conscience remains a pledge of hope and mercy. In attesting to the fault committed, it calls to mind the forgiveness that must be asked, the good that must still be practiced, and the virtue that must be constantly cultivated with the grace of God:
We shall . . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.


1782 Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. "He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters."
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  #3  
Old Aug 21, '10, 9:28 am
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phoenixrrt62 phoenixrrt62 is offline
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Default Re: What is your conscience

Quote:
Originally Posted by sinnerdexter View Post
Many small children are familiar with the story of Jimmy Cricket who tells Pinocchio always to let his conscience be his guide. The wisdom of this advice hits people as they grow older.

So "What is your conscience?"
Wow. Interesting. I suppose your moral code or your conscience would be dictated by your upbringing, and the mores of the society you were raised in? You know?

When I was a young adult, I was in therapy...god, seemed like forever...it was necessary, though.
One therapist used to say to me that I had a very interesting moral code and I was pretty hard on myself.
To this day I don't fully understand what he meant.
I asked him right then and there what he meant, and he asked me if I was religious...well, at the time, yeah, I was. I used to read the bible every day, and tried like all hell to follow the teachings of the New Testament. I wasn't too good at it, though.
HA!

SO, I can relate to your question...oh, how I can relate. I wish I had an answer. That's the closest I can come to one...
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Old Aug 21, '10, 2:56 pm
sinnerdexter sinnerdexter is offline
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Default Re: What is your conscience

Quote:
Originally Posted by teachccd View Post
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:


I. THE JUDGMENT OF CONSCIENCE
1777 Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.


1778 Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law:
Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise. . . . [Conscience] is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.


1779 It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience. This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection:
Return to your conscience, question it. . . . Turn inward, brethren, and in everything you do, see God as your witness.


1780 The dignity of the human person implies and requires uprightness of moral conscience. Conscience includes the perception of the principles of morality (synderesis); their application in the given circumstances by practical discernment of reasons and goods; and finally judgment about concrete acts yet to be performed or already performed. The truth about the moral good, stated in the law of reason, is recognized practically and concretely by the prudent judgment of conscience. We call that man prudent who chooses in conformity with this judgment.


1781 Conscience enables one to assume responsibility for the acts performed. If man commits evil, the just judgment of conscience can remain within him as the witness to the universal truth of the good, at the same time as the evil of his particular choice. The verdict of the judgment of conscience remains a pledge of hope and mercy. In attesting to the fault committed, it calls to mind the forgiveness that must be asked, the good that must still be practiced, and the virtue that must be constantly cultivated with the grace of God:
We shall . . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.


1782 Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. "He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters."
I think that the flaw in that Catholic view of conscience is that a few formulations of its definition put too much weight on its derivation from external authorities into which the mind of the subject has no insight, which the person cannot understand, but which the subject merely obeys. Obedience to an alien dictate whose reasons are not perfectly comprehensible, and which thus do not fully command the obedience of the person addressed by their rationally persuasive force is simply the abdication of reason. In contrast, true obedience to the dictates of conscience, to be meaningful, has to arise from the inner conviction of people who choose to obey because they are convinced of the moral validity of what they commit themselves to.
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Old Aug 22, '10, 9:32 am
teachccd teachccd is offline
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Default Re: What is your conscience

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Originally Posted by sinnerdexter View Post
I think that the flaw in that Catholic view of conscience is that a few formulations of its definition put too much weight on its derivation from external authorities into which the mind of the subject has no insight, which the person cannot understand, but which the subject merely obeys. Obedience to an alien dictate whose reasons are not perfectly comprehensible, and which thus do not fully command the obedience of the person addressed by their rationally persuasive force is simply the abdication of reason. In contrast, true obedience to the dictates of conscience, to be meaningful, has to arise from the inner conviction of people who choose to obey because they are convinced of the moral validity of what they commit themselves to.

Yes, that is known as moral relativism and rejects the notion of objective truth. Being guided towards objective truth in no way an abdication of reason. One can always choose whether or not to follow and discern what is objectively true or to follow their own convictions. But once you go down that road then one person's conviction is as good as the next's. As a Catholic we cannot adhere to moral relativism since that very theory refutes itself. It's basically saying that something is true because I think that it is. That statement in and of itself can never be true if even one other person believes otherwise................. Peace....... teachccd
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  #6  
Old Aug 22, '10, 3:56 pm
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Default Re: What is your conscience

Obeying someone you know to be an authority on the subject, even though you cannot follow his intellectual argumentation, is not irrational or an abdication of sense. You are persuaded, reasonably, within yourself to follow the authority, since they have proven themselves to know or they are likely to know for some other reason. That is an exercise of your own sense.
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Old Aug 22, '10, 8:01 pm
sinnerdexter sinnerdexter is offline
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Default Re: What is your conscience

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Originally Posted by teachccd View Post
Yes, that is known as moral relativism and rejects the notion of objective truth. Being guided towards objective truth in no way an abdication of reason. One can always choose whether or not to follow and discern what is objectively true or to follow their own convictions. But once you go down that road then one person's conviction is as good as the next's. As a Catholic we cannot adhere to moral relativism since that very theory refutes itself. It's basically saying that something is true because I think that it is. That statement in and of itself can never be true if even one other person believes otherwise................. Peace....... teachccd
No, since I said my own 'reasoning,' not my own 'arational whim,' determines my conscience, my position does not amount to moral relativism. When I reach a conclusion which guides my conscience it is always based on objective facts or logical inferences which I believe I could explain or justify to other people, since I believe that moral values necessarily make claims to objective validity.

A judgment of taste, such as that ice cream is 'better' than salad, admits from the outset that it is entirely subjective: in making that statement, I don't expect that anyone else should agree with me. But if I say that my own conscience, when rationally examined according to my own values, tells me that murder is wrong, I am not stating a subjective judgment of taste, but an objective judgment of value.
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Old Aug 23, '10, 12:24 am
diggerdomer diggerdomer is offline
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Default Re: What is your conscience

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Originally Posted by sinnerdexter View Post
Many small children are familiar with the story of Jimmy Cricket who tells Pinocchio always to let his conscience be his guide. The wisdom of this advice hits people as they grow older.

So "What is your conscience?"
Jiminy. Not Jimmy.
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  #9  
Old Aug 23, '10, 5:46 am
teachccd teachccd is offline
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Default Re: What is your conscience

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Originally Posted by sinnerdexter View Post
No, since I said my own 'reasoning,' not my own 'arational whim,' determines my conscience, my position does not amount to moral relativism. When I reach a conclusion which guides my conscience it is always based on objective facts or logical inferences which I believe I could explain or justify to other people, since I believe that moral values necessarily make claims to objective validity.

A judgment of taste, such as that ice cream is 'better' than salad, admits from the outset that it is entirely subjective: in making that statement, I don't expect that anyone else should agree with me. But if I say that my own conscience, when rationally examined according to my own values, tells me that murder is wrong, I am not stating a subjective judgment of taste, but an objective judgment of value.

So then, what specifically is your beef with the catechism's description of conscience? You said, "When I reach a conclusion which guides my conscience it is always based on objective facts or logical inferences which I believe I could explain or justify to other people, since I believe that moral values necessarily make claims to objective validity". Isn't this what the Church is saying? Aren't objective facts those facts which need to be explained to others in order for them to have the same moral values that will result in objective reality? You seem to be claiming the very thing that you initially resisted............ teachccd
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Old Aug 23, '10, 5:51 am
teachccd teachccd is offline
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Default Re: What is your conscience

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Originally Posted by sinnerdexter View Post
But if I say that my own conscience, when rationally examined according to my own values, tells me that murder is wrong, I am not stating a subjective judgment of taste, but an objective judgment of value.
In this statement you just claim that a subjective idea can lead to an objective conclusion. This seems to contradict itself unless your values were derived from an objectively truthful source. I believe that this is what the catechism is alluding to ............. peace....... teachccd
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Old Aug 24, '10, 7:20 pm
sinnerdexter sinnerdexter is offline
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Default Re: What is your conscience

For an example of what I mean by a non-religious form of conscience which makes claim to objective validity but which does not regard any given fable, story, dogma, belief, or superstition as its source, consider Kant's derivation of morality.

We can only speak of praise and blame if we assume that people are free so that they can deserve praise or blame. But we know that science says that everything in the physical world is causally determined. So to escape causality and ensure that our actions can deserve praise or blame we have to act according to conceptual commands we give ourselves which transcend our selfish interests to ensure that they do not just arise from the causal promptings of material appetites, desires, and selfishness. The best way to ensure that these commands are not selfish and causally determined is to fashion these commands so that they respect the equal freedom of other people, since this will restrict our doing what we naturally want to do, which will lift us above our causal conditioning, especially since our actions will be determined by the ideal concept of respect for human equality and freedom, rather than by the causal, material drive to satisfy our own needs. So we become moral and free in the same single step by respecting the equal freedom of all other people.

Now because this argument is an appeal to the rationality of everyone, it is objective in the sense of making an intersubjective appeal. The Kantian is not saying here that this is just what I believe, but is instead arguing that logic shows that this is what you should believe as well, because it is valid for everyone. But the Kantian is also not saying that I believe this because I worship Kant who told me to believe this. Rather, he is saying I believe this because it makes sense, and for that reason you should believe it as well.

In short, to be objectively valid something doesn't have to be propped up by some thing -- whether imaginary or not -- which supports its existence in the real world. Something can be objectively valid simply by being based on an argument that makes sense.
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Old Aug 24, '10, 10:32 pm
diggerdomer diggerdomer is offline
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Default Re: What is your conscience

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But we know that science says that everything in the physical world is causally determined.
Can you give some reference for this suggestion? Thanks.
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Old Aug 25, '10, 7:48 pm
sinnerdexter sinnerdexter is offline
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Default Re: What is your conscience

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Can you give some reference for this suggestion? Thanks.
That is actually Kant's starting point for this reasoning, so it reflects the view of late 18th century natural science, which of course hadn't anticipated the questions about universal causality posed by Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle, Copenhagen quantum mechanics, etc. But many theorists have argued in recent years that even these new discoveries don't undermine the basic premise that natural science is the science of causes.

Ever since the 17th century, it was accepted as axiomatic that hylozoism, saying for example that an apple fell from a tree because it just wanted to, or that the Moon orbits the Earth because its inner nature compels it to, is the death of scientific explanation. Science essentially operates by explaining events in terms of relations extending into quantifiable contexts of time and space, and the external relations among objects which are quantifiable in spatio-temporal terms are causal. Aristotelian physics said that things moved because they tended to flee toward their natural place in the universe, which for fire was up and for matter was down. But the great advance to modern physics by Newton and others was to insist that things move because something else collides with them to cause them to move.

Just about any work on the philosophy of science will discuss the view that causal accounts are the essence of scientific explanation.
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