Obras da Patrística

Mercabá: o que significam os animais?


Late medieval discussions of conscience derive from Peter Lombard’s presentation of the concepts of conscience and synderesis in his Sentences. Lombard cites a passage from St. Jerome, interpreting Ezekiel’s vision of four living creatures coming out of a cloud. Each creature was shaped like a man, but each had four faces: the front face was human; the right was that of a lion; the left was that of an ox; and the back was that of an eagle (Ezekiel 1.4-14). Jerome identifies the human face as representing the rational part of man, the lion as the emotional, the ox as the appetitive, and the eagle as that “which the Greeks call synteresis: that spark of conscience which was not even extinguished in the breast of Cain after he was turned out of paradise, and by which we discern that we sin, when we are overcome by pleasures or frenzy and meanwhile are misled by an imitation of reason.” Jerome’s comment that synteresis (alternatively, synderesis) is never extinguished in human beings and his remarks elsewhere to the effect that wicked people do cease to have any conscience led Lombard and subsequent thinkers to distinguish synderesis from conscience. While it is unclear that Jerome meant to distinguish the two, the distinction plays a major role in late medieval discussions of conscience.


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