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Right or Wrong, Our Conscience

Updated on June 24, 2014

Which path to take is right and wrong but a different sort.

Moral judgment is different than efficiency judgment.
Moral judgment is different than efficiency judgment. | Source

What is a conscience?

Let us look at why we call things right and wrong. Why we say that is the conscience and if it really is important or a waste of time. This may be one area where theists and atheists can agree that they know to little to argue about conscience. Wouldn't that be special.

Conscience really is a term we use often but do not stop to think about or define. As will be seen professionals try to classify it and common folk do not get too deep into it. It really is a philosophical and theological concept at it's best.

Medically speaking it comes from the area of psychiatry known as psychoanalysis and is that part of the superego that transmits commands and admonitions to the ego. And in common parlance it is the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being either morally right or wrong. (Merriam-Webster)

If it were located it would be in the center of your mind/brain. It would be like the hub of all hubs directing many portions of the brain and receiving input from many portions.

Notice that our concept suggests it is what makes us aware of right and wrong. Not necessarily controlling or adapting our actions according to right and wrong. That simply is not the case. Knowing and doing are in fact very separate animals. A man in anger who hits another may or may not be acting right or wrong even according to his conscience.

How about you? Do you conform your conduct to what your conscience perceives as right or wrong? Maybe you do but you do not even know it or maybe you do not and would like to change.

This song suggests some kind of guilty conscience.

Do you care about right and wrong?

Do you conform your conduct to what you believe is right?

See results

End of the day brings reflection and time to think about what we have done.

The heavens appear violent in this shot while the earth is serene?
The heavens appear violent in this shot while the earth is serene? | Source

"Morally" is not a scary crazy subject.

You already act morally the question that is in front of us is whether or not you consciously act morally right or wrong. I think we can rest assured that most of our actions are morally right. In that most actions do not even take on a moral question it becomes easy to do the right thing most of the time. But it is just as fair to say that most of us do not weigh right and wrong in a moral sense even when faced with moral questions and we probably should.

Someone sitting next to you in public drops 100 dollars and you see it and he is leaving. It is an easy moral question: Should you pick up the 100 dollars and give it to him or not? The answer is also easy. Yes. If you internally debate this question you have an active healthy conscience. If you decide to keep the money you have a bad conscience and if you give it to him you have a good conscience. That is not hard and not debatable by healthy moral people. We assume you have a good conscience.

Living large in the bottom of the Grand Canyon

Wild plum tree and time for a break
Wild plum tree and time for a break | Source

Inner debate and group conscience

The great depiction of the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other having and argument and trying to get the poor fellow to act one way or the other. It can be hilarious. Those illustrate our inner battles that go on in our mind. Greed, anger, avarice and selfishness fuel the devil and love and affection and happiness and good fuel the angel. It is the point of this article that we allow for such a debate and are cognitive of that debate. Normally we will be angels.

The same is true of our social structures. If we give room and space and time for the debate to be had between good and evil and right and wrong then history bears out that right and good usually triumph. Squash the debate and bad things happen. Get a crazy dictator who stifles the discussion and votes with greed and a power hungry maniacal bent and you have things like genocide. The same can be said for many minds.

A psychopath is someone with his conscience turned off, more particularly someone who has a chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior. So we can see that the conscience is what equips us to be social animals in a civilized manner.

Can we say that morality is as simple as saying "screw you" verses saying "have a nice day" (of course the intent and inflection must be present in both or either one can mean the reverse ;-)

We teach early to learn the right and wrong!

Do not squirt daddy with his camera.
Do not squirt daddy with his camera. | Source

A message for you.

If you just read this article all the way through. You are a friend. Thank you. You probably already do all the good things mentioned here. Perhaps now you can put them in a frame work that works for you to more easily decipher.

We have seen good men and women create that hell on earth by hearing the right and the good but choosing the wrong and the bad. Don't go there please. But if you fall that way know that you can come back, do not stay away long, come back home. We will leave the tsk tsk and judgment to the censors and blue haired ladies. In my home a fall is just another reason to get back up and you are welcome here.

Right or Wrong?

This article was written by Eric Dierker. I reserve all rights to this article and desire no duplication without attribution. On the other hand feel free to share the content just let folks know where it came from. Copying it and claiming it as your own would be stupid and subject you to my legal harassment of you. Besides if someone asked you what it meant you would not know so yes it is copyright protected as original work by me. Just leave a comment to ask to use it elsewhere and please share it.

To read more by this fascinating author visit, Eric Dierker on Facebook and Pinterest and my sweet blog resipsaloquitor on google blogs


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    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Or is the aging process more about the ability to unconsciously apply moral standards?

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Eric - A well written and well argued essay. The conscious versus unconscious issue is interesting, but I believe with time and effort on our part we cab bring more of our unconscious decisions and behaviors under the moral scrutiny of our conscious minds.

      I sure hope. :) What else is the whole "aging" thing supposed to be about anyway? :) An important Hub. Sharing. Theresa

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      O' I reckon that is one of his tricks, but we are wise to it!

    • ologsinquito profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I like how you mentioned the devil, as a lot of people seem to be afraid of using that word nowadays, for fear of sounding medieval.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Lady, Pecks' pointed concern over folk like narcissists, is well placed in my mind. There just seems an evil component in many that outweighs any sense of good. But we are bordering on psychopathic criteria when we go there. And therefor a sickness.

      ps. I think Plato, Socrates and Hypocrites were maybe the first to write on such subjects, that we know of at least.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Denise Thank you for coming by. I think most actions are like you say. It is the important ones that count on our character.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      This is a very good article about the importance of our decisions and how we should act morally. I wonder, however, have you ever read "People of the Lie?" The premise of the book is that evil people justify their evil so that they believe that what they are doing is good. In essence, their life is a lie and it allows them to do evil because they are lying to themselves. The book says that people don't commit evil knowing it's evil, they do it by making them believe in their hearts that they are doing good. It's sort of like the Tech University guy who I believe made a video and said the students brought it on themselves to be shot. He blamed his isolation on them and so he felt he deserved vengeance. Very sad. Anyway, People of the Lie is the first book that tried to make a psychiatric, scientific study of evil. If you have time, you may want to read it.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I don't think that most of us think of our actions as "good" or "bad" rather what is it that gets our needs met? If we are using underhanded tactics rather than going the route of asking and receiving, then we deserved to be pricked by our conscious!

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      The only problem with the Golden rule is that it can result in a boy buying his mom a new baseball glove ;-) Which is not necessarily a bad thing :-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I know this to be true...the Golden Rule is right on. It sure simplifies my search for the moral answer in life. :)

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dora, I do believe that some folk have such a heightened sense of conscience that they auto reflexively act right with out conscious account. Not instinctively but very close to it.

      But still there are big questions that require conscious contemplation. In your case the 100 dollars would not even get you to think about it, you would just automatically get it to the owner.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      "The question . . . is whether or not you consciously act morally right or wrong." I don't now if I am right, but it seems that my actions are both conscious and subconscious. Perhaps conscious when I have to think about it, but many times I'm not thinking. That's the truth. Thanks for your insights on conscience.


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