Synderesis, in scholastic
moral philosophy, is the natural "capacity" or disposition (habitus) of the " practical reason" to apprehend intuitively the universal " first principles" of human "action". Reasonis a single faculty, but is called differently according to the end that it assigns to its search for truth; when its goal is the mere consideration (contemplation) of truth, it is called speculative reason; when it considers truth in view of action ( praxis), it is called "practical reason". In both cases reason uses demonstration ( syllogism) as its tool; it proceeds from the understanding of previously known truths ( premises) to the statement of a proposition ( conclusion) whose truth follows necessarily from the premises.
How do we know that those premises (and consequently their conclusion) are true? Because they are themselves conclusions of previous demonstrations. Although we could take back this process of demonstration of the truth of premises as far as we want, a
regression ad infinitumwould deprive the demonstrative chain of certitude. Consequently it is necessary that the point of departure of human reasoning be some immediately knowable, i.e. self-evident, propositions called the "first principles", whose truth is not, indeed cannot be grasped through demonstration, but only by intuition (noûs).
The habit or disposition that allows the speculative reason to apprehend intuitively the principles that preside over its
discursive reasoningis called "understanding of principles" (intellectus principiorum). The principle of "non contradiction", of "identity" and of "excluded middle", all of which are ultimately based on the notion of " being", which is the first that our reason apprehends absolutely, are all examples of those principles.
Similarly, the capacity or disposition that allows the practical reason to apprehend intuitively the principles or laws that preside over its discursive reasoning regarding human action is called "synderesis". Just as "being" is the first notion apprehended absolutely, so also "good" is the first thing that is apprehended by the practical reason, since everything that acts does so for an end which possesses the quality of goodness. That is why the first principle or law of the practical reason is "good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided". Also the precepts of natural law can be considered object of synderesis insofar as all the things towards which the human being has a natural inclination are naturally apprehended by the intellect as good and therefore as objects to be pursued, and their opposites as evils to be avoided.
Synderesis is the capacity not only to apprehend the first principles, but also to judge every step of the practical discourse in the light of those principles. But, as an intellectual disposition concerned with knowledge of the first principles of action, synderesis provides only the
universal premiseof the practical syllogism. Every human "action", however, is singular, contingentand takes place in particular circumstances. To complete the practical discourse and reach a conclusion regarding what has to be done "hic et nunc" and what means are to be used, other capacities are necessary besides synderesis, and to actually effect the action other faculties are required besides reason. That is why the whole picture concerning human action includes powers, dispositions and acts such as conscience, desire, will, etc., each one of which requires an independent article in this encyclopedia.
The origin of the notion of synderesis as presented here can be traced, on the one hand, to the Commentary on
Ezechielby Saint Jerome(A.D.347-419), where "syntéresin" is mentioned among the powers of the souland is described as the spark of conscience (scintilla conscientiae) and, on the other, to the interpretation of Jerome's text given, in the 13th Century, by Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinasin the light of Aristotelian psychology and ethics. An alternative interpretation was proposed by Bonaventure, who considered synderesis as the natural inclination of the "will" towards moral good.
* [http://www.iep.utm.edu/s/synderes.htm Synderesis] entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
* [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/conscience-medieval/ Medieval Theories of Conscience] entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Synderesis — • Synderesis, or more correctly synteresis, is a term used by the Scholastic theologians to signify the habitual knowledge of the universal practical principles of moral action Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Synderesis Sy … Catholic encyclopedia
synderesis — /sin deuh ree sis/, n. 1. innate knowledge of the basic principles of morality. 2. Christian Mysticism. the essence of the soul that unites with God. Also, synteresis. [1350 1400; ME < ML synderesis, synteresis < Gk syntéresis a guarding, equiv.… … Universalium
synderesis — noun The supposed inate ability of the human mind to realise the basic principles of ethics and morals … Wiktionary
synderesis — (or synteresis ) The supposed natural or innate ability of the mind to know the first principles of ethics and moral reasoning. Although traced to Aristotle, the phrase came to the modern era through St Jerome, whose scintilla conscientiae (gleam … Philosophy dictionary
Synderesis — Syndẹresis, Philosophie: die Synteresis. * * * Syn|de|re|sis, Synteresis, die; [griech. synte̅rēsis = Bewachung, Bewahrung] (kath. Theol.): Gewissen als Bewahrung des göttlichen Funkens im Menschen … Universal-Lexikon
Synderesis — Syn|de|re|sis vgl. ↑Synteresis … Das große Fremdwörterbuch
synderesis — syn·de·re·sis … English syllables
Synderesis — термин Фомы Аквинского (1225 1274) для обозначения морального и религиозного условия, основополагающего для всех людей, через к рое они принимают фундаментальные принципы моральной ответственности. Термин отличается от греческого syneidêsis… … Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов
synderesis — … Useful english dictionary
Conscience — Not to be confused with consciousness. For other uses, see Conscience (disambiguation). Vincent van Gogh, 1890. Kröller Müller Museum. The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix). Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment of the … Wikipedia