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010050 FS Medieval Approaches to Conscience (2013W)

6.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 1 - Katholische Theologie
Continuous assessment of course work

Vortrag von Prof. i. R. Dr. Arno Anzenbacher am 30.01.2014 von 18.15-20.00 Uhr im HS 47 im Rahmen der LV "Philosophische Anthropologie" , zu dem die Studierenden ebenfalls eingeladen sind.


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 25 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Friday 11.10. 13:00 - 16:15 Seminarraum 3 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Friday 25.10. 13:00 - 16:15 Seminarraum 3 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Friday 08.11. 13:00 - 16:15 Seminarraum 3 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Friday 22.11. 13:00 - 16:15 Seminarraum 3 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Friday 29.11. 13:00 - 16:15 Seminarraum 3 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Friday 13.12. 13:00 - 16:15 Seminarraum 3 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Friday 10.01. 13:00 - 16:15 Seminarraum 3 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Friday 17.01. 13:00 - 16:15 Seminarraum 3 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Friday 31.01. 13:30 - 16:30 Seminarraum 3 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG


Aims, contents and method of the course

The course will investigate mediaeval theories concerning the origin and nature of the human conscience. It will take into account not only the mediaeval tradition ̶ which has its most immediate origins in the epistles of Paul (written between 52 and 68) and which closes with the writings of the major Reformation thinkers, in particular, the earlier texts of Martin Luther (1483-1546) ̶ but also alternative theories of conscience that have been put forward in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In the first session, the way in which different philosophical anthropologies influence how conscience is conceived will be explored. To this end, the anthropological models of the mediaeval scholastic philosophers will be juxtaposed with those of late nineteenth-century and earlier twentieth-century philosophers and psychologists, in particular, Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, and those of later twentieth-century virtue-ethicists such as Alistair Macintyre. Once this more general theoretical backdrop is established, the subsequent sessions will explore the particular theories of conscience that were developed by earlier and later medieval thinkers, most notably Augustine, Anselm, Abelard, Philip the Chancellor, Bonaventure, Aquinas, the later Franciscans (Olivi, Duns Scotus, and Ockham), and finally Martin Luther.

Assessment and permitted materials

Assessment will be based upon the short presentation or presentations (whether one or two is set will depend on the number enrolled for the course), contribution to the classroom discussion (for which attendance is indispensable); and upon an essay on a topic covered in the course or on a related topic. This essay can be written in German or English (or French.) It should reveal critical thought, be written in an appropriate academic style and follow standard academic procedure.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

This will be firstly to explore how different philosophical anthropologies give rise to different theories of conscience, and secondly to evaluate modern theories (whether religiously committed or secular) from the perspective of the theories of the past, in particular, those proposed by medieval Christian thinkers.

Examination topics

Students will be encouraged to discuss critically the various theories of conscience with which they are presented through the course. They will also prepare one or two short presentations on one or two of topics covered in the individual sessions. The lecturers will also make similar contributions, especially where their knowledge of a certain topic is crucial if a well-grounded and lively discussion is to occur. Although the base language for the course will be English, those participating are free to make contributions in either English or German.

Reading list

The primary readings for the individual sessions will be made available on Moodle, as well as helpful secondary reading. The readings (whenever possible) will be in Latin, English and German. For a more general overview, the following texts can be recommended:
Hogan, Linda, Confronting the Truth. Conscience in the Catholic Tradition, New York: Paulist Press, 2000 (the first three chapters, in particular.)
Langston, Douglas C., Conscience and other Virtues: From Bonaventure to Macintyre, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001.
Müller, Jörn, “Zwischen Vernunft und Willen: das Gewissen in der Diskussion des 13. Jahrhunderts,” in Günther Mensching, ed., Radix totius libertatis. Zum Verhältnis von Willen und Vernunft , Contradictio 11, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2011, pp. 43-73.
Pinckaers, Servais-Théodore, “Conscience and the Christian Tradition,” (1990) in The Pinckaers Reader, Washington DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2005, pp. 321-341.
Potts, Timothy, “Conscience,” in Norman Kretzmann, Anthony Kenny, and Jan Pinborg, eds., Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy: From the Recovery of Aristotle to the Disintegration of Scholasticism 1100-1600, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982, pp. 687-704.
Potts Timothy, Conscience in Medieval Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980
Stelzenberger, Johannes, Syneidesis, Conscientia, Gewissen: Studie zum Bedeutungswandel eines moraltheologischen Begriffes, Abhandlungen zur Moraltheologie, Bd. 5, Paderborn: Schöning, 1963.
The most comprehensive study of mediaeval approaches to conscience is Odin Lottin, Psychologie et morale aux XIIe et XIIIe siècles, vol. II/1, Louvain: Abbaye du Mont César; Gembloux: J. Duculot, 1948, pp. 103-349. It also contains extensive extracts (in the original Latin) from the writings on conscience of a large number of mediaeval thinkers. Unfortunately, Lottin’s magnum opus has not been translated into German or English.

Association in the course directory

LV für Doktorat -/PhD-Studien, für 011 (08W) D31 oder DAM, für 066 793 (08W) MAM, Fächerkontingentseminar 3 oder (freies) Wahlfach für 011 (02W), 012 (02W) und 020

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:27