Der pädagogische Gewissensbegriff
Conscience cannot evolve without reason, Rousseau claims. Yet conscience is supposed to be independent of reason. For conscience can be good or evil, clear or guilty, awake or asleep. None of this can be claimed for reason, which is generally seen as being a rational asset, the capacity of which forms the focus of controversial academic debate embracing the two notions of modern and post-modern conscience.
It is from conceptual analysis that the fundamentals of conscience formation and the possibilities and scope of conscience education are represented. Although the philosophic decentrisation of the subject has led to a move away from the modern concept of conscience, this does not necessarily mean the adoption of an academic concept of conscience. Nowadays, this implies that the education of conscience is no longer to be seen as a spiritual awakening of the modern conscience, but rather as academic support for the formation of a post-modern conscience. Seen in this light, conscience does not correspond to an inner instance (such as a divine instinct, an inner court of law, a super-ego) which generates ‘the good in itself’, but instead a means – by way of its ability to assert a cognitive, emotional and voluntative self-image in and via self-talk – of creating distance from oneself, and from other people and other things.
According to this hypothesis, the education of conscience provides the link between the formation of values, morals and purpose and thus a gateway to post-modern accountability. Consequently, the pedagogical concept of conscience is central to the theory of post-modern education with the goal of imparting personal accountability which, in turn, is only justifiable as a ‘fallible behavioural disposition’ within the framework of a situations ethic.