The Voice of Conscience A Political Genealogy of Western Ethical Experience

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-07-18
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

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In Western thought, it has been persistently assumed that in moral and political matters, people should rely on the inner voice of conscience rather than on external authorities, laws, and regulations. This volume investigates this concept, examining the development of the Western politics of conscience, from Socrates to the present, and the formation of the Western ethico-political subject.

The work opens with a discussion of the ambiguous role of conscience in politics, contesting the claim that it is the best defense against totalitarianism. It then look back at canonical authors, from the Church Fathers and Luther to Rousseau and Derrida, to show how the experience of conscience constitutes the foundation of Western ethics and politics.

This unique work not only synthesizes philosophical and political insights, but also pays attention to political theology to provide a compelling and innovative argument that the experience of conscience has always been at the core of the political Western tradition. An engaging and accessible text, it will appeal to political theorists and philosophers as well as theologians and those interested in the critique of the Western civilization.

Author Biography

Mika Ojakangas is Professor of Political Thought at the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland. The author of five books and over 80 articles, his research areas include continental political theory, the history of political and ethical thought, and political theology.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. National Socialism and the Inner Truth
The Call of Heidegger’s Conscience
Nihilism of Judgment: Arendt
3. Conscience in Moral and Political Theology
Church Fathers between the Law and the Spirit
Synderesis and Conscientia: Scholasticism
Divine Instinct
The Spark of the Soul: Eckhart and Tauler
A Voluntarist Bias of William Ockham?
The Lutheran Revocation
The Return of the Repressed: Spiritualists and Pietists
Calvin’s Compromise
The Puritan God within
On the Modern Protestant Conscience
4. Conscience in Early Modern Moral and Political Philosophy
The Witness of Natural Law from Suárez to Pufendorf
The Candle of the Lord: Cambridge Platonists
A Crisis of Conscience: Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke
5. The Conscience of the Enlightenment
The Moral Sense from Shaftesbury to Smith
The Judgement of Intuitive Reason: Clarke, Butler, Price, Reid and Beyond
The French Experience: from Bayle to Rousseau
The German Model: Wolff versus Crusius
Immanuel Kant and the Infinite Guilt
German Idealism: Conscience as Conviction
6. From Political Theology to Theologized Politics
7. Remarks on Late Modern Conscience
Internalized Coercion: Nietzsche and Freud
The Voice of the Other: Levinas and Derrida
Ethics of the Real: Lacan
8. The Western Politics of Conscience
On the Socratic Origins of the Politics of Conscience

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