Reason and conscience are two forms of judgment that must be learned by all human beings. However, they are not the same; conscience is a mental obligation to do what is morally or ethically right, as opposed to what is wrong. Similarly, reason is an intelligent and rational perception of a situation. Each is gained during the various stages of growth and development of the human brain. As an infant, one would not have the physical ability to make decisions or choices; since a conscience derives from consciousness, not to be confused with attentiveness, one would not have a conscience without the ability to form their own decisions. This knowledge is emphasized by Scientific American writer Christof Koch,“It is well recognized that infants have no awareness of their own state, emotions and motivations. Even older children who can speak have very limited insight into their own actions.” However, as a child matures, he will notice and emulate the world that he is present in as well as the people he interacts with. The child is essentially raised by what he is exposed to, and eventually shapes his own opinions of the surrounding society. Factors include parenting, education, location, societal ideals, and interaction with others. Certain events seem to impact some people more than others, usually depending on the person’s emotional soundness and past events or thoughts. Different backgrounds and moral teachings create differing opinions on the same topics.
Reason is much more easily explained, though not necessarily easier to be taught. Because it is a flexible, yet complex, method of intelligent judgment and decision-making, most people do not fully develop the ability until much later in life, regardless of most exterior factors. For example, an older child that may appear physically developed or intelligent may not have a fully-developed brain that would allow for the concept of reason. It appears that in order for reason to be implemented into a child’s brain, a conscience must first be developed. It is possible that conscience and reason begin to form prior to birth, very much like other developing aspects of a growing fetus. For example, “...Linguistic capacities in babies are shaped by the environment they grow up in. Exposure to maternal speech sounds in the muffled confines of the womb enables the fetus to pick up statistical regularities so that the newborn can distinguish its mother’s voice and even her language from others,” states Koch, again from Scientific American. This shows that although it would be possible for a baby to come into the world with a small bud of conscience and reason already expanding, it would not have simply been there all along. It must be learned.