Ben Elton on Conscience

You don’t expect high philosophy from television script writers turned comic novelists. But that is what I found only a few pages into Ben Elton’s 2005 novel “The First Casualty” (found on the shelf of mine host). This is a serious historical novel set in the last years of WWI, and I think it way and above his best writing ever. I was bowled over by this simple exchange in the first few pages:

“It is intellect that sets man above the beasts.”
“It is conscience that sets man above the beasts.”
“The two are surely connected, sir. It is intellect that informs a man what is right and conscience that determines if he will act on that information.”

Okay, you philosopher theologians out there (or theolosophers, as my wife called the combined genus this afternoon). What mark do you give him?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ben Elton on Conscience

  1. Arabella-m says:

    As no ‘theolosophers’ have had a go, here is my amateurish attempt. I would give him 7/10 as an average of the following scores:

    “The two are surely connected, sir”. 10/10

    “It is intellect that informs a man what is right” 8 /10
    (Rather intellect considers all details regarding the morality of an act, then intellect informs the ‘conscience’ which decides the goodness of the act.)

    “and conscience that determines if he will act on that information” 2/10
    (His conscience could tell him an action is correct but he might lack the necessary courage or will-power to carry out that action. Conscience can also judge past actions and there may no longer be any actions possible, only sorrow)

    In summary – Intellect and conscience are surely connected. Intellect allows man to inform his conscience by considering all details of a problem. Conscience makes the final judgement of the goodness of actions. Strength of will determines if he will act on that information according to his conscience.

    So David – what mark would you give him?

  2. Schütz says:

    Arabella, I won’t bother giving Elton a mark, as I think you have done a sterling assessment and analysis with which I entirely agree. 10/10 for you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *