The Other I

December 1, 2008

Don’t follow your conscience

Greatly influenced by the government policies of the Nazis during WWII, my father taught us that it was a moral imperative to follow ones conscience, even at the cost of disobeying the law or those in rightful positions of authority.  The Nuremberg war trials seemed to support the validity of this advice, but that was what now seems a long long time ago.

Today, the principle of following ones conscience is far more relative.  There are times when we do our utmost to stop people from following their conscience, and other times when we imprison people for trying to do what they believe is right.

The problem is that conscience tells some people to commit what the rest of the world calls terrorist acts.  Or conscience tries to get the law changed so that everyone must follow the principles of morality which not everyone accepts.  So we have 9/11, and Mumbai, and the London bombings and more deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We have people attacking abortion clinics, and trying to get the law changed so that it forbids all abortion.

The Roman Catholic Church recognizes this problem with conscience.  It says we must follow our conscience, but they provide quite specific guidelines to determine if a conscience is “properly formed.”

I don’t agree with their definition of a “properly formed” conscience.  But they do have a point.

There are time when we ought to say “No, don’t follow your conscience.  It’s wrong!”



  1. “property conscience” freudian or brilliant? kateri VP “58


    Comment by kateritek — December 18, 2008 @ 6:04 pm | Reply

    • Oh my goodness! What an interesting slip. I wish I could say “property conscience” emanated from my brilliance. Unfortunately, even my egocentrism does not run to this, so if it wasn’t Freudian, it was a typo. Which do you think is preferable?
      The Other I


      Comment by theotheri — December 18, 2008 @ 8:16 pm | Reply

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