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Conscience in Context

Historical and Existential Perspectives

Stuart P. Chalmers

In this book, the author presents a detailed study of the notion of conscience from the perspective of its historical development and existential environment. The purpose of the study is to highlight conscience’s dignity and fallibility, as well as its dependence upon the context of virtue and grace, in order to develop as our capacity to perceive the truth in moral action. Starting from the premise that current moral theory is suffering from fragmentation, the author proposes that this fragmented outlook has affected the common understanding of conscience and is therefore in need of renewal, chiefly in terms of the reintegration of conscience with its proper setting. In order to explore this theory, he investigates how conscience has been understood over the centuries, particularly in the New Testament and during the Scholastic period, and analyses a number of important issues concerning its nature and function.

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image: Detail from Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam, c. 1511–1512. Nihil obstat: Rev. Prof. Dr D. Vincent Twomey, SVD, Censor deputatus Imprimatur: Rt Rev. Hugh Gilbert, OSB, Bishop of Aberdeen Given at Aberdeen, 24 June 2013, Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist Dedicated to Elsie and Bill Chalmers, in thanksgiving. Requiescant in pace. “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1–2) “Thus conscience is a connecting principle between the creature and his Creator.” John Henry Cardinal Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent

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