Conscience and Its Critics
Protestant Conscience, Enlightenment Reason, and Modern Subjectivity
AUTHOR: Andrew, Edward G.
PUBLISHER: University of Toronto Press
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Conscience and Its Critics is an eloquent and passionate examination of the opposition between Protestant conscience and Enlightenment reason in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Seeking to illuminate what the United Nations Declaration of Rights means in its assertion that reason and conscience are the definitive qualities of human beings, Edward Andrew attempts to give determinate shape to the protean notion of conscience through historical analysis.
The argument turns on the liberal Enlightenment's attempt to deconstruct conscience as an innate practical principle. The ontological basis for individualism in the seventeenth century, conscience was replaced in the eighteenth century by public opinion and conformity to social expectations. Focusing on the English tradition of political thought and moral psychology and drawing on a wide range of writers, Andrew reveals a strongly conservative dimension to the Enlightenment in opposing the egalitarian and antinomian strain in Protestant conscience. He then traces the unresolved relationship between reason and conscience through to the modern conception of the liberty of conscience, and shows how conscience served to contest social inequality and the natural laws of capitalist accumulation.
PUBLICATION DATE: 1/15/2001
CATEGORY: Psychology, Religion