April 9, 2013

Thought for 04.09.13

Conscience is the voice telling you that you are wrong. Ego is the voice telling you everyone else is.

—Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

8 comments:

JCF said...

And Courage is the voice that helps you express both Conscience and Ego, simultaneously.

At least, I hope it is. When I think about (e.g.) abortion, my Conscience tells me that I (passionately pro-choice) could be wrong. My Ego says I don't think I am. There it is, for better or worse.

Tobias Haller said...

That works, JCF, though it's not quite what formed my thought. I was primarily thinking of those who say that their conscience demands they condemn someone else's actions.

Deacon Charlie Perrin said...

How true. It sounds a lot like the thinking of Richard Rohr, the Roman Catholic Franciscan.

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks, Deacon C. That's good company to be in!

MarkBrunson said...

So . . . Jesus was responding to ego?

Tobias Haller said...

Mark, not sure I follow your question. To grapple with the inner psychology of Jesus I would look to two incidents: the desert and Gethsemane. In both, Jesus appears to wish to submit his own will (ego) to the voice of conscience which actually spells out his duty (contrary to an ego driven self-preservation and exaltation). One might say that conscience is the voice that tells one to judge one's own decisions -- to judge oneself before judging others. That seems consistent with Jesus' teaching.

MarkBrunson said...

There's really not a lot of question, Tobias, given your original statement. Jesus frequently, almost constantly had a voice telling him everyone else is wrong - I'm challenging the simplistic claim that "I'm wrong = conscience; everyone else is wrong = hubris."

We both know that it is quite possible for one person to be right and all others around him wrong, and that person would never act if not aware of that. We know that groupthink is the cause of massive tragedy and incompetence - indeed, no amount of single-person ego-driven damage goes as far without group assent and action - so I have trouble with a sort of liberal pietism that equates humility with self-doubt. I suspect the attitude comes from a great resentment of the idea that some individual may have gotten right what the group I belong to got wrong. We like to feel strong in groups and be unchallenged.

Tobias Haller said...

Mark, I guess the problem here is how people apply words. There is no doubt that people sometimes rightly judge others to be wrong. But I wouldn't call that "conscience" though some do -- hence my corrective comment. What I'm addressing is using the title of unassailable "conscience" as a cloak for judgment. Let judgment be judgment, and stand on its own, without the protective "you can't tell me I'm wrong because I'm acting on conscience" defense mechanism. That's the issue I'm attempting to address, which is, I think, quite different from what you are describing, except to note that it is this usage of "conscience" that people engage so that they can avoid challenge. If you will, this is at the opposite pole of what you describe, humble conformity to the group to avoid challenge. Ultimately it seems the issue may be unwillingness to stand for what is right or engage in debate on the basis of the belief itself and the evidence that supports it.