Kolnai and the Problem of the Modern Conscience Cover Image

Kolnai és a modern lelkiismeret problémája
Kolnai and the Problem of the Modern Conscience

Author(s): Attila Károly Molnár
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences
Published by: MTA Politikai Tudományi Intézete

Summary/Abstract: The paper tries to show the critical significance of Kolnai’s essay, Erroneous Conscience. It describes shortly the history of the meaning of conscience, pointing to its two distinct wings. Whilst Kolnai followed the Thomist interpretation of conscience, the criticized modern interpretation of conscience seems to follow Luther’s and the English Puritan radicals’ path. By criticizing modern’s notion of conscience, Kolnai turned our attention to the moral and psychological weakness of moderns, which were named as formalism and intellectualism. By bracketing the notion of erroneous conscience and the problems coming from it, they trusted too much in individual actors supposing the elimination of original sin. In the context of Kolnai’s oeuvre, it seems that he suggested the need for consensual, intersubjective morality. Consensual morality is a kind of revitalization of tradition and institutional religion. But even this kind of morality is embedded in immanent, this-worldly life, that is polluted by original sin. Therefore Kolnai claimed the notion of conscience as a chance for direct relation with transcendental truth. Although, he debased implicitly the modern democratic morality in this paper, on the other hand he didn’t refused democratic political institutions. Kolnai’s moral criticism suggested that the modern Western politics needed non-democratic, non-liberal and nonmodern moral and institutional setting.

  • Issue Year: 2005
  • Issue No: 3-4
  • Page Range: 53-70
  • Page Count: 17
  • Language: Hungarian