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Conscientization and the Cultivation of Conscience

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Keqi (David) Liu

Conscientization and the Cultivation of Conscience constitutes a major contribution to the international literature on the work of Paulo Freire, one of the most influential educationalists of all time. It provides a fresh perspective on the Freirean notion of conscientization, rethinking this pivotal concept in the light of the history of ideas on conscience. The author offers a holistic, philosophical reading of Freire’s texts and argues for the cultivation of conscience through love and dialogue. Such a reading, he suggests, allows us to better respond to the moral crises that face us in the age of global capitalism. The ideas advanced in this book have important implications for philosophical and cultural understanding and for educational theory and practice.
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Chapter Three: Conscience and its Relationship With Consciousness

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  CHAPTER THREE

If conscientization is defined as the cultivation of critical consciousness and conscience, the project of incorporating the cultivation of conscience into conscientization necessitates a study of both the notion of conscience and its relationship with consciousness. Therefore, the origin and the historical development of conscience are explored for a clear grasp of the notion of conscience, and the conflict and the unity between conscience and consciousness are examined to illuminate how the two concepts are dialectically interconnected. The chapter concludes with the unifying role that conscience plays in the conscience–consciousness relation.

Three articulations of human experience appear to be at the foundation of the Western notion of conscience: (1) the writings of Cicero, (2) the Hebrew Scriptures, and (3) the writings of Paul (Despland, 1987).

Cicero is believed to be the first Western philosopher who coined the word conscientia (Despland, 1987). For him, conscience or conscientia, as an inner testimony or an internal moral authority on important issues, is usually consciousness of one’s deeds: agreeable consciousness of good deeds while disagreeable consciousness of bad deeds (Martyn, 1972). The bite of conscience figuratively refers ← 51 | 52 → to disagreeable consciousness of bad deeds. That is, conscience has the great power for bliss or bane; or, one may have a good conscience or a bad one. As Cicero (1991) argued, a bad conscience is from the influence of others and public opinion while a good conscience is often from isolated self-approval. Accordingly, he often...

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