Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Conscience, Renaissance Understanding of

  • Rudolf SchuesslerEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_602-1
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Abstract

Unlike the scholastic tradition, the Renaissance as a cultural phenomenon did not produce a distinctive cluster of theories of conscience. Renaissance authors, scholarly as well as literary ones, largely used and modified the medieval and scholastic models of conscience in very diverse ways. However, within the temporal range of the Renaissance (1300–1650), the scholastic discourse of conscience underwent momentous changes and Protestantism developed its own discourse of conscience. The present article does not canvas these developments, beyond shortly elucidating the medieval background of Renaissance dealings with matters of conscience, but focuses on the cultural impact of the Renaissance, and specifically Renaissance humanism. In this respect, four vectors of influence are addressed: humanist rhetoric, with its criticism of scholastic uses of opinions and preoccupation with virtue; Renaissance individualism, born of the claims of a new class of intellectuals (i.e., humanist) to moral competence (but not of an alleged “invention of the individual”); Machiavellian and reason-of-state political thought; and a fledgling moral relativism nourished by a first age of globalization.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • David A. Lines
    • 1
  1. 1.Italian Studies, School of Modern Languages and CulturesUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK