Authored by: Douglas C. Langston

The Routledge Companion to Medieval Philosophy

Print publication date:  January  2021
Online publication date:  January  2021

Print ISBN: 9780415658270
eBook ISBN: 9781315709604
Adobe ISBN:


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Early scholastic discussions of conscience in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries are concerned with distinguishing conscience from synderesis. Since each medieval scholar had to comment on Peter Lombard’s Sentences to become a Master of Theology, what Lombard (d. 1160) put in his Sentences wielded tremendous influence on what was discussed in the universities by masters and students. In his work, Lombard cites a passage from St. Jerome (d. 416) in which Jerome interprets the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of four living creatures, shaped like men but each having four faces, coming out of a cloud (Ezekiel 1: 4–10). The four faces were those of a human being, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. Jerome identifies the human face with the rational part of human beings, the lion as the emotional part, the ox as the appetitive part, and the eagle as that

which the Greeks call synteresis: that spark of conscience which was not even extinguished in the breast of Cain after he was turned out of paradise, and by which we discern that we sin, when we are overcome by pleasures or frenzy and meanwhile are misled by an imitation of reason.

(Potts 1980b: 689)

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