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Passions in Poetry

What is the Origin of Conscience

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Huan Yi
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since 10-12-2004
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0 posted 02-07-2008 08:24 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi


“Soldiers of the Sun,  The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army”
by Meirion and Susie Harries makes an argument that the atrocities
committed by average Japanese soldiers, (there was no special “Nazi” equivalent in Japan), during World War II were due to the Japanese soldier having no conscience as understood in the West that overrode the orders/urges he had, which were in conformity to the dictates of a group culture that sought to rule.  It brings up the question:  is conscience then a particular cultural and/or religious as opposed to
universally motivating concept?

Quick definitions (conscience)

noun:   conformity to one's own sense of right conduct


serenity blaze
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since 02-02-2000
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1 posted 02-07-2008 09:17 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I think a better question is what is the cultural influence of origin of conscience (considering your following example, especially) or, does conscience equate with guilt as created by trauma and how does this relate to morality as either a herent or inherent trait/quality?
Member Elite
since 08-10-2002
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2 posted 02-07-2008 09:24 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I would say knowledge (science) is the chief origin, with emphasis on the knowledge of good and evil.

The con- of conscience implies "with" as "with others" "in common with", "in connection with"

In my Elementary Latin Dictionary, the first three definitions of conscientia, whence conscience comes, are "joint knowledge",  "consciousness", and "common knowledge"

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since 07-27-2007
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3 posted 02-07-2008 09:46 PM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

I believe that conscience is from God. Every single human being has it. but it can be shaded
by many other things (lots of free wills). In this case, loyalty to his empire.    
Bob K
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since 11-03-2007
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4 posted 02-08-2008 02:05 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K

     Another interesting set of questions!  I don't know that we've actually distinguished ourselves from the Japanese, have we?  I mean, it sounds as though everybody assumes we have, but I'm not sure that we have any support of this. American attitudes toward authority and group-think seem to me to be quite close to the Japanese.  I can remember very clearly reading about the Milgram experiments with open-mouthed shock when I was a kid.

This connection with the Zimbardo experiments throws considerable light on some of the questions brought up by Huan Yi in regard to the Japanese; and it extends it further into a discussion of our own American culture.  Furthermore it suggests links to the horrible events in Iraq.  Zimbardo was a witness for the defense, by the way, and offered one of the few understandable explanations to the question "How could we allow this to happen?" that seems to have any intellectual solidity to it.

     I previously left a link to the Milgram experiments, but, as I add this link, I don't see it here.  My experience with this software, however, tells me that it's probably here someplace, simply waiting to spring at me from hiding.  If it doesn't show up within a reasonable amount of time, a simple google of Milgram or Stanley Milgram will offer you some  Interesting information about the human capacity for ho-hum evil.

     Here is a Milgram reference:


[This message has been edited by Bob K (02-08-2008 10:38 PM).]

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