Conscience and its Critics: Protestant Conscience, Enlightenment Reason, and Modern Subjectivity

Conscience and its Critics: Protestant Conscience, Enlightenment Reason, and Modern Subjectivity

by Edward G. Andrew


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442614871
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
Publication date: 08/28/2012
Series: Heritage
Pages: 270
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.61(d)

About the Author

Edward G. Andrew is a professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto.

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