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Conscience is a somewhat mysterious and much debated concept. In contemporary psychology it’s understood as a conscious system of moral values, or that aspect of the self that the person experiences as giving voice to these values–i.e. “my higher self says I shouldn’t do this.”

According to Freudian psychoanalysis, the conscience differs from the superego in that the former refers to moral values (the “still, small voices”) held in our conscious mind. The superego, on the other hand, contains moral values that are, in part, unconscious.

In religion, we find some belief systems claiming that the conscience comes from a higher plane or realm (e.g. astral or heavenly). But conscience is sometimes contrasted, in Catholicism for instance, with the Will of God. The belief here is that an unenlightened person may suppose they’re making good choices when they’re not.¹

¹ See, for instance, the Catholic devotional book, My Daily Bread by Father Anthony Paone.


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