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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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Footnotes are indicated by the page number followed by “n” and the note number. 436 Index practical reason 283n44 prudence 299n122, 303–6, 304n144, 308, 309–14, 313n185 Quodlibeta 124, 133, 134, 148 reality and goodness 260, 260n362 reason and conscience 130n284 reason and Divine Law 283n43 reason and error 220n193 reason perverted by evil 220n193 reason and will 132n293 reasonableness 234n245 Scripture commentaries 124n251 self-evident principle 267 sloth 363n48 spiritual adults (perfecti) 26 Summa Theologica 22, 90n84, 143–50, 143n356 absence of conscientia in text 305n146 synderesis 124–9, 135–7, 135n307, 143–5 synderesis and conscientia 142, 143 temperance and fortitude 327–8, 327n251, 328n254 truth 238n257, 297, 298, 299 barriers to 297 and goodness 236n251, 238n257, 297 virtue/s 274n5,6, 278, 282, 287n60, 289n71, 290–1, 291n78, 292n86, 300n123, 343, 373 and law 316n201 will and belief 334 Aristotle 10, 11, 13, 14, 86n59, 91, 93n95 in Albert the Great 103–4, 106 Ethics 149n388 ethics 149 Metaphysics 239, 239n261 Nichomachean Ethics 130n284, 178n27, 195n91, 277n15, 289n68, 330n262 On the Soul 105n156 perception distorting reasoning 218n188 Physics 125n257 Aquinas, St Thomas (continued) erroneous conscience 140, 248–9 error 217n182, 219n190 faith 338n305 fallibility of conscience 262n368 first principles 185n59, 229–32, 229n228, 262–3, 262n367,368, 263n370,371, 264–8 free will 19n42 freedom 19, 23 gifts of the Spirit 373n102, 374–5, 374n106 grace 333n280, 334 guilt 256–7 habitus 282n38, 301, 313n183, 323 hope 339, 340n313 human and divine intellect 242n277 human frailty 224n211 human...

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