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Stone: Conscience in Renaissance moral thought (Read 6245 times)

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Stone: Conscience in Renaissance moral thought
24.08.2009 at 12:17:27
Martin W. F. Stone:
Conscience in Renaissance moral thought: a concept in transition?
in: "Renaissance Studies" 23.4, September 2009 , pp. 423-444


This paper focuses on a neglected aspect of the history of the discussion of conscience in late fifteenth-century Europe. It seeks to explain how Adrian of Utrecht (1459-1523), a prominent scholastic theologian at Louvain, pondered the more subjective dimensions of conscience, and how his arguments can be appraised from the perspective of a wide-ranging discussion of the nature and function of moral cognition and judgement that took place in humanist and philosophical circles. Adrian's work is especially interesting for reason that he has important things to say about `moral integrity', and `convictions of the heart'- ideas that bring into focus how highly personalized aspects of moral reflection impinge upon the activities of conscience. Having outlined Adrian's concerns, his description of the machinations of our moral conscience will then be set in context by comparing his account to that of a leading philosopher of his age, Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499). In addition to this, the thoughts of the celebrated `Christian humanists' John Colet (1467-1519) and Desiderius Erasmus (1466/9-1536) will also be enlisted so that a richer picture of Renaissance ideas of conscience can emerge.

Keywords: Adrian of Utrecht; conscience; Erasmus; John Colet; Marsilio Ficino; moral cognition

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1111/j.1477-4658.2009.00603.x
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« Last Edit: 25.08.2009 at 09:57:00 by hck »  

for contact information etc. concerning hck (Heinrich C. Kuhn): see http://www.phil-hum-ren.uni-muenchen.de/php/Kuhn/
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Re: "Stone": Conscience in Ren. moral thought
Reply #1 - 31.05.2010 at 16:12:43
Pernille Harsting (The Nordic Network for the History of Rhetoric, Copenhagen, Denmark) sent me an email which reminded me of the above entry, which I should have commented on/ corrected already quite some time ago, as Martin Stone in this article translated/paraphrased work by Rudolf Branko Hein without acknowledging that it was work by Hein (and not by Stone). And, yes, this is a case of what we call plagiarism (IMO it goes well beyond sloppy citation behaviour!). If you have access to the article mentioned above and google books you can easily compare Hein's text to "Stone"'s p. 430, and see yourself what Harsting found out (and which before seeing it with my own eyes I would not have believed to be possible, proof of something which IMO would have been unacceptable behaviour for any student writing an essay, and which IMO is rather shocking to see in a published article - the worst case of plagiarism by a contemporary author I can remember to have ever seen in our field).
Pernille Harsting writes:

M.W.F. Stone, 'Conscience in Renaissance moral thought: a concept in
transition?', Renaissance Studies 23:4 (2009), pp. 423-444 (= S)


(1) Rudolf Branko Hein, 'Gewissen' bei Adrian von Utrecht (Hadrian VI.),
Erasmus von Rotterdam und Thomas More: Ein Beitrag zur systematischen
Analyse des Gewissensbegriffs in der katholischen nordeuropäischen
Renaissance, Studien der Moraltheologie 10 (Münster: Lit verlag, 1999) (=

S 430-432 = H1 228-232; S 433-434 = H1 233-234

(2) Rudolf Branko Hein, 'Conscience: Dictator or Guide? ­ Meta-Ethical and
Biographical Reflections in the Light of a Humanist Concept of Conscience', in
Julie Clague, Bernard Hoose, and Gerard Mannion (eds.), Moral Theology for the
Twenty First Century: Essays in Celebration of Kevin Kelly (London: T&T Clark,
2008), pp. 34-50 (= H2)

S 434 = H2 38; S 435 = H2 38, 39; S 436 = H2 39; S 437 = H2 39; S 438 = H2
39, 40; S 439 = H2 40; S 440 = H2 40, 41-42; S 441 = H2 42; S 442 = H2 42; S 443
= H2 42, 43

Hein, 'Gewissen', p. 229: 'Dabei gründet er sich auf eine Textversion bei
Ambrosius, der an betreffender Stelle corde puro verwendet habe. Cor
bezeichnet hier also das sittlich handelnde Subjekt selbst, welches durch
das zugefügte Adjektiv (simplex / purus) in seiner Ganzheit sittlich
qualifiziert wird. Man möchte einen ähnlichen Bedeutungshorizont vermuten,
wo von einem Menschen die Rede ist, der bona conscientia einen um Rat
suchenden zu gelehrteren Menschen schicken könne, obwohl er wisse, daß diese
eine ihm entgegengesetzte Meinung verträten. Da diese "klassische' Wendung nicht
wieder erneut auftaucht, läßt sich allenfalls mutmaßen, daß conscientia hier
wiederum dem sittlich agierenden Subjekt zugeordnet ist, auf dessen Integrität
bzw. aufrechte sittliche Überzeugung mit dem Adjektiv bona abgehoben werden soll

Stone, pp. 430-431: 'He bases this view on a version of the text occurring
in Ambrose, who quoted the term as cor purus or "pure heart', where cor
signifies the actual subject of the moral action, which is then qualified by the
adjective that accompanies it such as simplex ("simple') or purus ("pure'). A
similar attitude seems to be present in Adrian's discussion of the issue whether
a person could in "good conscience' (bona conscientia) send someone to seek the
advice of learned authorities, even though he knows that these individuals hold
an opinion contrary to his own. Here we can surmise that conscientia also
relates to the subject of the moral act, the adjective bona emphasizing that
person's integrity or righteous moral conviction.'

Hein, 'Conscience', p. 38: 'Lex naturalis: inherent in the human mind, it is
accessible to the enlightened intellect. Material content: the first formal
principle,22 the Golden Rule, God is to be venerated.' [[Hein, p. 45, n. 22:
'Quis primo gustavit bonum? Intellectus, qui rationem concepit boni dormiente
etiam voluntate ... Primum propositum est in intellectu atque est eiusmodi:
bonum quo caremus comparandum (Marsilio Ficino, Comm. in Phil., cap. 37, in
Marsilio Ficino: The Philebus Commentary [[ed. and trans. M.J.B. Allen; Berkeley,
Los Angeles, London, 1975; reprint 1979, with corrections]], p. 375).']]

Stone, p. 435: 'After the lex divina was the natural law (lex naturalis).
Inherent in the human mind, it was made accessible to the intellect
enlightend [[sic]] by divine light. Its material content was its first formal
principle, the "golden rule' for Ficino, that God is to be venerated.73 [[Stone,
p. 435, n. 73: 'Ficino, Comm. in Phil, cap. 37, in Marsilio Ficino: The Philebus
Commentary, ed. and trans. M. J. B. Allen (Berkeley, London & Los Angeles:
University of California Press, 1975; reprint, 1979), 375: "Quis primo gustavit
bonum? Intellectus, qui rationem concepit boni dormiente etiam voluntate [[...]].
Primum propositum est in intellectu atque est eiusmodi: bonum quo caremus


Lots of thanks to Pernille Harsting!
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for contact information etc. concerning hck (Heinrich C. Kuhn): see http://www.phil-hum-ren.uni-muenchen.de/php/Kuhn/
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Re: Stone: Conscience in Renaissance moral thought
Reply #2 - 29.08.2010 at 23:48:03
This is case no. 35 in Dougherty, Harsting and Friedman "40 Cases of Plagiarism" in Bulletin de philosophie médiévale 51 (2009) 350-391.
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