When two or more men know one and the same fact, theyare said to beCONSCIOUSof it one to another; which is toknow it together.[The Latin roots of ‘conscious’ are ‘con’ = ‘with’,and ‘scire’ = ‘know’.]And because several men in agreementare the best witnesses concerning actions by one of themor by someone else, it was and always will be thought avery bad act for any man to speak against hisconscience[same Latin roots], or to corrupt or force anyone else to doso, for the plea of ‘conscience’ has been always heard withrespectful sympathy.·This word ‘conscience’ came to bemisused in two ways·.First, men used it metaphorically,to stand for their knowledge of their own secret acts andthoughts; it’s in that usage that it is rhetorically said thatthe conscience is a thousand witnesses.And then menwho were passionately in love with their own new opinions(however absurd), and obstinately determined to stick upfor them, gave those opinions of theirs the reverenced name28
Leviathan 1Thomas Hobbes7. The ends of discourseof ‘conscience’, apparently wanting to suggest that it wouldbe unlawful to change them or speak against them; and sothey claimed toknowthey are true, when the most that theyknow is that they think them true.When a man’s discourse doesn’t begin with definitions,it begins either•with some other contemplation of his own,and then it is still called ‘opinion’ or with•something saidby someone else whose ability to know the truth, and whosehonesty, is not doubted by the man in question.In thelatter case, the discourse is not so much about its ostensibletopic as about the·trusted·person; and its resolution—·its‘bottom line’·—is calledBELIEFandFAITH. Faith in the man;belief both of the man and of the truth of what he says. Thus,inbeliefthere are two opinions—one of what he says, theother of his virtue.To have faith in a man, or to trust aman, or to believe a man, signify the same thing—namelythe opinion that•the man is truthful, but to believe what issaid signifies only the opinion that•what he says is true. Itshould be noted that the phrase ‘I believein. . . ’ never occursexcept in the writings of theologians. In other writings wedon’t find ‘believein’ but rather ‘I believe him’, ‘I trust him’,‘I have faith in him’, ‘I rely on him’. . . .This peculiarity inthe ecclesiastical use of the word has raised many disputesabout the right object of the Christian faith.By ‘believing in’, as it occurs in the creed, is meant not•trust in the person but•confession and acknowledgment ofthe doctrine. For not only Christians but all sorts of men dobelieve in God in such a way as to regard as true everythingthey hear him say, whether or not they understand it. Thatis as much faith and trust as can possibly be had in aperson—anyperson—but they don’t allbelieve the doctrineof the creed.
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