The Furies of Conscience by J. Budziszewski

Feature

The Furies of Conscience

Denial & the Wages of Sin

Everyone knows that conscience works in two different modes: cautionary and accusatory. In the cautionary mode, it alerts us to the peril of moral wrong and generates an inhibition against committing it. In the accusatory mode, it indicts us for wrong we have already done. The most obvious indictment is the feeling of remorse, but remorse is the least of the five Furies. No one always feels remorse for doing wrong; some people never do. Yet even when we fail to feel remorse, our knowledge of our guilt generates objective needs for confession, atonement, reconciliation, and justification.

These other Furies are the greater sisters of remorse. They are inflexible, inexorable, and relentless, demanding satisfaction even when mere feelings are suppressed, fade away, or never come. And so it is that conscience operates not only in the first two modes but also in a harrowing third: the avenger, which punishes the soul who does wrong but refuses to read the indictment.

THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:


J. Budziszewski is Professor of Government and Philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin, and the author of What We Can't Not Know (Spence) and Ask Me Anything (NavPress). is a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin, where he also teaches courses in the law school and the religious studies department. His books include What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide (2d ed. Ignatius, 2011), Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Virtue Ethics (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2017), and On the Meaning of Sex (ISI Press, 2012).

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!

Online
Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.


more on abortion from the online archives

26.1—Jan/Feb 2013

The Destroyer of Peace

on Abortion as a Matter of National Welfare by W. Ross Blackburn

30.3—May/June 2017

Known Trespassing

on the Misuse of Property Rights to Justify Slavery & Abortion by Robert Hart

24.1—January/February 2011

Sanger's Victory

How Planned Parenthood's Founder Played the Christians, and Won by Allan C. Carlson


more from the online archives

33.3—May/June 2020

Deliberation, Inc.

Human & Divine Societies Require Careful Thought & Discourse by Anthony Esolen

33.3—May/June 2020

Maternity as Theophany

Maternal Body: A Theology of Incarnation from the Christian East by Carrie Frederick Frost
Fertile Ground: A Pilgrimage Through Pregnancy by Laura S. Jansson by Agnes R. Howard

30.6—Nov/Dec 2017

The Great Divorce

Christianity & the Liberal Society by James Hitchcock

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

00