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"Let your conscience be your guide." But what is conscience?

 
 
Reply Mon 6 May, 2013 12:42 pm
How do we arrive at conscience? Is it inborn or learned? How does it differ, if at all, from superego? Is it related to shame?

Is it related in any way to Paul's comments at Romans 2:14-14 "For whenever people of the nations that do not have law do by nature the things of the law, these people, although not having law, are a law to themselves. 15 They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them and, between their own thoughts, they are being accused or even excused."
 
View best answer, chosen by neologist
InfraBlue
 
  4  
Reply Mon 6 May, 2013 01:58 pm
The capacity for morality is as inborn and developed socially as is the capacity for language.

It's organic.
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 May, 2013 07:04 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:
The capacity for morality is as inborn and developed socially as is the capacity for language.

It's organic.
How would you say it is related to shame?
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 May, 2013 07:38 pm
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0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 May, 2013 08:34 pm
@InfraBlue,
Sure. Language is the example I have often used for moral relativism. Everyone has the capacity for language, but each culture has a different language. Likewise you are wired genetically to have some moral code, but humans have countless different moral codes. The specifics on what is right and wrong to you depends on your culture (i.e. how you are taught).
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Mon 6 May, 2013 08:42 pm
@neologist,
Conscience is learned. We are social animals. We evolved to be part of a group with rules of behavior. We have guilt when we break the rules of our social group. This evolutionary trait is an important part of what keeps us working together within societies.

Different social groups have different sets of rules, but guilt is universal.

0 Replies
 
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 May, 2013 09:21 am
I understand conscience to be innate to some degree and that it can also be developed. Does the same apply to superego?

What about shame? The feeling of shame, that is, when one realizes he or she has violated conscience. Where does that fit in?
InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Tue 7 May, 2013 12:53 pm
@neologist,
neologist wrote:

InfraBlue wrote:
The capacity for morality is as inborn and developed socially as is the capacity for language.

It's organic.
How would you say it is related to shame?


Shame is an emotion that can be brought on by a sense of guilt.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Tue 7 May, 2013 01:01 pm
@neologist,
Shame is something we teach our kids.

In some cultures they teach girls to be ashamed to show their hair.
In our culture we teach girls to be ashamed to show their breasts (especially the nipples).
In some cultures, they don't teach girls to be ashamed of showing their bodies.

We are ashamed of whatever our parents, and the society at large, tell us to be ashamed of.

neologist
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 May, 2013 01:02 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:
neologist wrote:
InfraBlue wrote:
The capacity for morality is as inborn and developed socially as is the capacity for language.

It's organic.
How would you say it is related to shame?
Shame is an emotion that can be brought on by a sense of guilt.
Very Happy Doh! Why didn't I think to add the concept of guilt to my OP? Then, how is the sense of guilt related to conscience or superego?
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 May, 2013 01:05 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Shame is something we teach our kids.

In some cultures they teach girls to be ashamed to show their hair.
In our culture we teach girls to be ashamed to show their breasts (especially the nipples).
In some cultures, they don't teach girls to be ashamed of showing their bodies.

We are ashamed of whatever our parents, and the society at large, tell us to be ashamed of.
I appreciate all the well considered posts. I think perhaps I have not phrased my original post correctly.
Conscience
Superego
Guilt
Shame
Cultural/learned differences. Is there some connection?
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Tue 7 May, 2013 03:03 pm
@neologist,
neologist wrote:

InfraBlue wrote:
neologist wrote:
InfraBlue wrote:
The capacity for morality is as inborn and developed socially as is the capacity for language.

It's organic.
How would you say it is related to shame?
Shame is an emotion that can be brought on by a sense of guilt.
Very Happy Doh! Why didn't I think to add the concept of guilt to my OP? Then, how is the sense of guilt related to conscience or superego?


Conscience is that inborn sense of morality.

Superego is a part of Psychoanalysis and Freudian theory that is supposed to be the unconscious internalized aspect of morality learned through society and that manifests itself as self-censor and self-restraint.
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 May, 2013 03:26 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:
. . . Conscience is that inborn sense of morality.

Superego is a part of Psychoanalysis and Freudian theory that is supposed to be the unconscious internalized aspect of morality learned through society and that manifests itself as self-censor and self-restraint.
Got it. Now for the relationship of these concepts, if any, to guilt and shame.
InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Tue 7 May, 2013 03:55 pm
@neologist,
Guilt and shame are the negative feelings of having acted immorally.

Shame includes thoughts of acting immorally.
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 May, 2013 03:58 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:
Guilt and shame are the negative feelings of having acted immorally.

Shame includes thoughts of acting immorally.
Going against one's conscience or simple cognitive dissonance?

Gawsh! There seem to be a lot more aspects to this than I had first anticipated.
0 Replies
 
Romeo Fabulini
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Sep, 2013 09:21 pm
Neologist said- "How do we arrive at conscience? Is it inborn or learned?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Natural primitive nature is "survival of the fittest", so I'm always surprised that compassion and conscience didn't vanish from the human race way back in caveman times.
I mean, if food was scarce, the biggest toughest caveman would hoard the last scraps for himself and let the rest of the tribe starve to death, and if he later met up with a cavewoman his selfish gene would get passed down through future generations.
But that's not the case, as vast numbers of humans today are not the least bit selfish, so where did their decent kind nature come from?
For example only this week i saw a guy in the local grocers buying a bottle of water, bread, biscuits and sausages to take to feed a young seagull that was hopping around with an injured leg.
And I also know people who deliberately go out with extra cash in their pockets to hand out to any beggars they might meet.
Surely it's illogical and against nature to help others like that, rather than Number One? Why do they do it? Beats me..Smile

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Sep, 2013 06:20 am
@Romeo Fabulini,
Quote:
I mean, if food was scarce, the biggest toughest caveman would hoard the last scraps for himself and let the rest of the tribe starve to death, and if he later met up with a cavewoman his selfish gene would get passed down through future generations.


Think about this again. What would happen to the genes of the biggest toughest caveman if he let the rest of his tribe starve to death?

(Hint: the genes we have to be nice to each other evolved for a reason).
0 Replies
 
Romeo Fabulini
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Sep, 2013 03:43 pm
Romeo said- "I mean, if food was scarce, the biggest toughest caveman would hoard the last scraps for himself and let the rest of the tribe starve to death, and if he later met up with a cavewoman his selfish gene would get passed down through future generations."
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Maxdonca replied- "Think about this again. What would happen to the genes of the biggest toughest caveman if he let the rest of his tribe starve to death?
(Hint: the genes we have to be nice to each other evolved for a reason)"
---------------------------------------------------------------------

That's why i said he later met up with another cavewoman somewhere and kept his line of offspring going. We know the human race never died out, but I've yet to hear a workable theory as to why the majority of humans alive today are decent and compassionate instead of being selfish and greedy.
Taking the animal world as an example, there's no such thing as a kind lion, we see them in wildlife films clouting other pride members to keep them away from a kill they're munching on, and sometimes they even eat young lion cubs..Smile
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Sep, 2013 04:25 pm
@neologist,
I think it's closely related to our genetics.

We all have a 'sympathetic system' which mimics other peoples state. It's why if another person gets angry, we get angry (often we later consider it to be irrational - but it's a result of this system). It's why two people 'together' walking side by side fall into step. It's why the very best salesmen even have their breathing fall into line with their customers. etc. It's the root source of 'empathy' (being able to feel what another person is feeling). It's purpose is social cohesion, which aided survival in caveman days.

If you look at 'purpose' of all of that - social cohesion and survival...I think you start to see some of the foundations of 'conscience' coming into play.

Our brains of course, have several areas with different functions. We have our primal brain which deals with instincts, a part of the brain that deals with emotions, and a part of the brain that deals with logic (they are the 3 major parts, there's other parts too). They interact, but don't always form a consensus.

I'm quite certain that apart from our sympathetic system, we then learn many parts of right from wrong (formed as neural connections in the brain), which are still closely related to social cohesion...but can differ in aspects from culture to culture (hence they must be learned values). And the breaking of these triggers our social cohesion instincts.

We also have 'imagination', which allows us to run scenarios and likely outcomes in our minds...which can again trigger social cohesion instincts, or even self preservation instincts.

All a part of 'conscience'.

Etc.

Just my thoughts.
Romeo Fabulini
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Sep, 2013 04:52 pm
Vikorr said- "We all have a 'sympathetic system' which mimics other peoples state"
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Good point, maybe there was a primitive tribe who by some fluke of nature or evolution or a "God-tweak", had a higher proportion of unselfish members, hence that tribe would tend to look after each other and grow and prosper, and eventually become the biggest most successful tribe on the park, while the selfish tribes withered and died.
0 Replies
 
 

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