Conscience: The Self in Search of The Good

Chapter 3
 Chapter
1, something at our very core
seeks the good
 Chapter 2, the human is a moral agent
 Chapter 3, the importance of
• Others
• Having a direction in life
• Character & one’s body
• Conscience
• Developing one’s conscience
 Am
I my brother’s keeper? (Gen. 4.9)
 Are you responsible for your sister and
 Western society doesn’t like “yes” as the
• Freedom is seen as independence from
can become “my hell”
“I may choose to build bridges
but that is wholly my decision. I
don’t need others. I can be a full
human being and free without
are unique individuals
But, we don’t need to see others
as enemies of our autonomy
The other makes it possible for
us to be our true selves.
See pages 42-43 of text
 An
unhealthy love of self (see page 43)
who you are means
knowing where you stand
Everyone stands somewhere
You need to know your
commitments, where you stand
on the great issues
 Charles Taylor, in
Sources of the Self,
shows how a human lives a sense of
 Our moral orientation forms part of our
 We are framed by our commitments (e.g.,
R.C.) and our particular identifications
(being Quebecois…)
of relationship
Social role
• Position
• Career
Our fundamental stance framed in
terms of who we are
 Our
stance in life shaped by a community
that shares a common language
 There is no way we could be inducted into
personhood except by being initiated into
a language.
 Language contains & shares common
experiences & commitments
 Think of the “inside joke”
 Trinity
• God a union of three persons: Father, Son & Holy
• Three distinct persons in ONE God
 Hypostasis
and prosopon (Greek & Latin)
for “person”, referred to what one could see
from the outside
1. Person: an individual with rights &
responsibilities; a unique & autonomous
individual who is conscious & can act
2. A meaning out of the expression of the
persons of the Trinity united as one in God
Love pours itself out toward another
 In God this breathing forth of love is a
communion of love that is Father, Son, and Spirit.
This love generated the Son and breathed forth
the Spirit so that there are three persons. At the
same time, this love binds the three into a unity.
 Person: the outpouring of love toward the other
 We are made in God’s image: i.e., by and for love
 Humans are social beings.
 Person essentially means “the self as
 “Do
you not know that your body is a temple
of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have
from God?” (1 Cor. 6.19)
 “character” how your actions over time tend
to become fixed in your body.
 (consider those who train for athletics 
muscle memory/strength/endurance,
 Moral fibre is like muscle fibre: the more
you use it, the stronger your character
 See page 49
 Repeating
action  becomes fixed 
takes root in you  others see this as one
of your character traits
 Read excerpt from Full Disclosure by
William Safire on pages 49 & 50
 What you believe & value, your habits,
your moral principles  your choices
 See excerpt from A Man for All Seasons p. 51
 Conscience
• The place where we hold ourselves in our own hands
• A voice that calls us to “love and do what is good and
to avoid evil.”
• A law inscribed in human hearts by God
• Our most secret core and sanctuary where we are
alone with God whose voice echoes in depths
 Make
own notes on “Conscience in the
teaching of the Church” p. 52
 Conscience in contrast to Freud’s concept of
superego page 53 & 54
Conscience is a capacity to recognize right &
1. A basic orientation to do good, an essential human trait
2. Sociopaths / psychopaths have no conscience
Conscience is a process of moral reasoning
1. Requires learning facts, values, how to reason
2. A life-long process
3. Seek out guidance from others
Conscience as judgment
1. Conscience is incomplete until acted upon
See Gula’s chart on page 55, copy into your notes
 No
simple answer
 Conscience develops
• As you mature
• As you take account of the norms & values of your
• As you deal with your failures, sins, weaknesses and
your need of support from others and God
• As you participate in prayer and sacrament
(Eucharist, Reconciliation)
• As you grow in the virtue of humility
 Copy
the diagram on page 58