In Moral Conscience through the Ages, Richard Sorabji brings his erudition and philosophical acumen to bear on a fundamental question: what is conscience? Examining the ways we have conceived of that little voice in our heads - our self-directed judge - he teases out its most enduring elements, the aspects that have survived from the Greek playwrights in the fifth century BCE through St Paul, the Church Fathers, Catholics and Protestants, all the way to the 17th centurys political unrest and the critics and champions of the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. Sorabji traces a history of conscience over this long period and examines an impressive breadth of recurrent topics: the longing for different kinds of freedom of conscience, the proper limits of freedom itself, protests at consciences being terrorized, dilemmas of conscience, the value of conscience to human beings, its secularization, its reliability, and ways to improve it. These historical issues are alive today, with fresh concerns about topics such as conscientious objection, the force of conscience, or the balance between freedoms of conscience, religion, and speech. The result is a stunningly comprehensive look at a central component of our moral understanding.
Sir Richard Sorabji is Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College at Oxford University and fellow and emeritus professor at Kings College, London. He is the editor of fifteen books, and founder and general editor of the Ancient Commentators on Aristotle series, in which more than a hundred volumes have been published.