conscience
conscienceless, adj.consciencelessly, adv.consciencelessness, n.
/kon"sheuhns/, n.
1. the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action: to follow the dictates of conscience.
2. the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
3. an inhibiting sense of what is prudent: I'd eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me.
4. conscientiousness.
5. Obs. consciousness; self-knowledge.
6. Obs. strict and reverential observance.
7. have something on one's conscience, to feel guilty about something, as an act that one considers wrong: She behaves as if she had something on her conscience.
8. in all conscience,
a. in all reason and fairness.
b. certainly; assuredly.
Also, in conscience.
[1175-1225; ME < AF < L conscientia knowledge, awareness, conscience. See CON-, SCIENCE]

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      a personal sense of the moral content of one's own conduct, intentions, or character with regard to a feeling of obligation to do right or be good. Conscience, usually informed by acculturation and instruction, is thus generally understood to give intuitively authoritative judgments regarding the moral quality of single actions.

      Historically, almost every culture has recognized the existence of such a faculty. Ancient Egyptians (Egyptian religion), for example, were urged not to transgress against the dictates of the heart, for one “must stand in fear of departing from its guidance.” In some belief systems, conscience is regarded as the voice of God and therefore a completely reliable guide of conduct: among the Hindus it is considered “the invisible God who dwells within us.” Among Western religious groups, the Society of Friends (or Quakers) places particular emphasis on the role of conscience in apprehending and responding through conduct to the “Inner Light” of God.

      Outside the context of religion, philosophers, social scientists, and psychologists have sought to understand conscience in both its individual and universal aspects. The view that holds conscience to be an innate, intuitive faculty determining the perception of right and wrong is called intuitionism. The view that holds conscience to be a cumulative and subjective inference from past experience giving direction to future conduct is called empiricism. The behavioral scientist, on the other hand, may view the conscience as a set of learned responses to particular social stimuli. Another explanation of conscience was put forth in the 20th century by Sigmund Freud in his postulation of the superego. According to Freud, the superego is a major element of personality that is formed by the child's incorporation of moral values through parental approval or punishment. The resulting internalized set of prohibitions, condemnations, and inhibitions is that part of the superego known as conscience.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Conscience — conscience …   Philosophy dictionary

  • CONSCIENCE — Le mot latin conscientia est naturellement décomposé en «cum scientia». Cette étymologie suggère non seulement la connaissance de l’objet par le sujet, mais que cet objet fait toujours référence au sujet lui même. Le terme allemand Bewusstsein… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Conscience — • The individual, as in him customary rules acquire ethical character by the recognition of distinct principles and ideals, all tending to a final unity or goal, which for the mere evolutionist is left very indeterminate, but for the Christian… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • conscience — CONSCIENCE. s. f. Lumière intérieure, sentiment intérieur par lequel l homme se rend témoignage à luimême du bien et du mal qu il fait. Conscience timorée. Conscience délicate. Conscience scrupuleuse. Conscience tendre. Bonne conscience.… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • conscience — Conscience. s. f. Lumiere interieure, sentiment interieur, par lequel l homme se rend tesmoignage à luy mesme du bien & du mal qu il fait. Conscience honorée conscience delicate. conscience scrupuleuse. conscience tendre. bonne conscience.… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • conscience — Conscience, Dire en sa conscience, Bona fide dicere. A ma conscience, Selon ce que je pense, Ex animi sententia. Homme de bonne conscience, Religiosus. Loyauté et bonne conscience, Religio et fides, B. Une exemplaire d une droite et bonne… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • Conscience — Con science, n. [F. conscience, fr. L. conscientia, fr. consciens, p. pr. of conscire to know, to be conscious; con + scire to know. See {Science}.] 1. Knowledge of one s own thoughts or actions; consciousness. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] The sweetest… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • conscience — con·science adj: exempting persons whose religious beliefs forbid compliance conscience laws, which allow physicians...to refuse to participate in abortions W. J. Curran Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • conscience — early 13c., from O.Fr. conscience conscience, innermost thoughts, desires, intentions; feelings (12c.), from L. conscientia knowledge within oneself, sense of right, a moral sense, from conscientem (nom. consciens), prp. of conscire be (mutually) …   Etymology dictionary

  • conscience — [kän′shəns] n. [OFr < L conscientia, consciousness, moral sense < prp. of conscire < com , with + scire, to know (see SCIENCE): replacing ME inwit, knowledge within] 1. a knowledge or sense of right and wrong, with an urge to do right;… …   English World dictionary

  • conscience — ► NOUN ▪ a person s moral sense of right and wrong, chiefly as it affects their own behaviour. ● in (all) conscience Cf. ↑in conscience DERIVATIVES conscienceless adjective. ORIGIN Latin conscientia knowledge within oneself , from scire to know …   English terms dictionary

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