Conscience in Medieval Philosophy by Timothy C. Potts

By Timothy C. Potts

This publication provides in translation writings through six medieval philosophers which undergo almost about moral sense. judgment of right and wrong, which are thought of either as an issue within the philosophy of brain and a subject matter in ethics, has been unduly overlooked in glossy philosophy, the place a winning trust within the autonomy of ethics leaves it no normal position. It used to be, despite the fact that, a regular topic for a treatise in medieval philosophy. 3 introductory translations right here, from Jerome, Augustine and Peter Lombard, current the loci classici on which next discussions drew; there follows the 1st whole treatise on judgment of right and wrong, via Philip the Chancellor, whereas the 2 last translations, from Bonaventure and Aquinas, were selected as notable examples of the 2 major ways which crystallised through the 13th century.

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There were discussions also as to when the yetzer M-ra* entered a man . . Most of the Rabbis held that it was at birth . . the yetzer hd-rd* was thought to be thirteen years older than the yetzer ha-fSb in the life of every man; for that period it reigned alone when man was not morally responsible. It was at the age of thirteen that the struggle of the Two Impulses began. It was, then, with the coming of the Law that the bar mitzwAh would become aware of the exceeding sinfulness of sin . . Moreover, from what PHILIP THE CHANCELLOR 25 we have said about the largely sexual nature of the yitzer hd-rd\ it would be the commandment .

The third possibility is that synderesis, although not a potentiality, is an innate tendency of rational desire: in terms of the doctrine of original sin, what remains after the Fall of the full control of bodily appetites which obtained before it. This is Philip's solution. His motivation for rejecting the other two possibilities, though not explicit, can be inferred. The first would not have fitted into his scheme of classification, which did not provide for acquired dispositions which are not voluntarily acquired, while the second would have carried the awkward consequence that those persons exempt from original sin - Adam and Eve before the Fall, Christ and, according to some medieval writers, the Virgin Mary - would have had no synderesis, because they had no impulse to sin which needed a counter-balance.

Thus, if we ask whether pain is a sensation or an emotion, the right answer is that it has certain features in common with sensations but others in common with emotions. Wittgenstein, indeed, resisted the temptation to invent a new category, say of emotional sensations, into which pain could be fitted; but we must remember that modern methods of classification are much more sophisticated than medieval ones, and one way of taking Philip's solution is not to place great weight on his category of dispositional potentialities, seeking to define it more exactly, but, rather, to construe his major contention as being that synderesis is in some ways akin to a potentiality and in others to a disposition.

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