Last modified on 22 June 2010, at 22:33

Consciousness Studies/Medieval Concepts

It is sometimes said that before the 17th century, there was no distinction between conscience and consciousness (both being referenced by the same Latin word 'conscius--from 'conscientia'). One feature of the soul being its ability to know itself, and the soul being witnessed also by God, there was a sense in which conscience was a knowledge of the inner life shared with God. In fact, Henig (2006) proposes that Descartes did not invent an entirely new sense of conscience, but if anything adapted this Augustinian sense of the term. The Augustinians themselves can be said to have adapted this use of conscius from the Latin Stoics like Seneca. On the other hand the Ancient Greek philosophers were clear that there was a problem of mind and the work of Descartes can be seen as more directly connected with Aristotle rather than with medieval philosophy.