Hendrik G. Stoker
Translated by Philip E. Blosser
Conscience: Phenomena and Theories was first published in German in 1925 as a dissertation by Hendrik G. Stoker under the title Das Gewissen: Erscheinungsformen und Theorien. It was received with acclaim by philosophers at the time, including Stoker’s dissertation mentor Max Scheler, Martin Heidegger, and Herbert Spielberg, as quite possibly the single most comprehensive philosophical treatment of conscience and as a major contribution in the phenomenological tradition.
Stoker’s study offers a detailed historical survey of the concept of conscience from ancient times through the Middle Ages up to more modern thinkers, including Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, and Cardinal Newman. Stoker analyzes not only the concept of conscience in academic theory but also various types of theories of conscience. His work offers insightful discussions of problems and theories related to the genesis, reliability, and validity of conscience. In particular, Stoker analyzes the moral, spiritual, and psychological phenomena connected with bad conscience, which in turn illuminate the concept of conscience.
The book is deeply informed by the traditions of western Christianity. Available for the first time in an accessible English translation, with an introduction by its translator and editor, Philip E. Blosser, it promises to be of interest to philosophers, especially in Christian philosophy and phenomenology, and also to all those interested in moral and religious psychology, ethics, religion, and theology.
“The scholarship is solid and amazing, displaying a sound knowledge of related literature reflected in notes and wide-ranging references. Stoker was on the forefront of knowledge about the leading figures of various fields of study. His exposition on the ideas and conceptions of the leading intellectuals of his time is impressive and in many instances could serve as a brief orientation in the views of the authors discussed by him.” — Danie Strauss, North-West University
“Few subjects are more important today that the question regarding the nature of moral conscience and its origin, development, reliability, and validity in a person’s life. In this profoundly original and significant work, the late South African philosopher Hendrik Stoker (1899–1993) addresses this question in a masterly way—a point highlighted by philosophers Martin Heidegger and Max Scheler—that is of relevance not only to scholars in the areas of moral and religious psychology and philosophical anthropology but also to theologians, epistemologists, and those interested in moral issues generally. Translator Philip Blosser, who also wrote an illuminating introduction to Stoker’s thought in this English translation of Stoker’s 1925 German work, should be congratulated for retrieving Stoker’s unfortunately neglected study of conscience. May this eminently accessible and readable work be enthusiastically received for its contribution to a crucially important subject.” — Eduardo Echeverria, author of Divine Election: A Catholic Orientation in Dogmatic and Ecumenical Perspective
“Blosser’s scholarship is excellent. He has done the tedious work, important to scholars, of correcting Stoker’s references to his source literature when they are in error regarding date or place of publication. The text is quite readable: it is stylistically up-to-date, and the description of obscure but important phenomena is clear.” — Eugene Kelly, New York Institute of Technology
“There are books that get more attention than they deserve, and there are books that, due to unfortunate historical contingencies, suffer unjust neglect. Stoker’s Conscience is one of the latter. Though Scheler and Heidegger recognized the significance of Stoker’s book when it first appeared in 1925, it did not get the reception that it merited. Philip Blosser has done an important work of retrieval by translating this work and making it available again. Everyone interested in the primordial human phenomenon of conscience has something to learn from Stoker. Notre Dame Press has given us a major new resource for a fundamental issue of philosophy.” — John Crosby, Franciscan University of Steubenville