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Conscientization and the Cultivation of Conscience


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 Five: The Cultivation of Conscience



If the work of conscience aims at a transcendent sphere, it must undergo two key approaches: love and dialogue. The cultivation of conscience, similarly, must rely on the transcendent role that love and dialogue assume. This chapter examines how this process occurs.

An examination of the transcendent role of love focuses on two dialectically interrelated notions: love of the good and love of life.

Love of the Good

Murdoch is a key philosopher in claiming love of the good. She values highly Socrates’s concept of the good, which highlights the significance of human spiritual life. Murdoch is also influenced by Weil’s (2002b) point—human beings’ fall is due to gravity. To put it simply, if a person is fettered by material gains and bodily pleasure, it is very hard for that person to embrace the light of the spiritual world. Accordingly, Murdoch (2001) warned that it is important not to take a central good as the good. For example, freedom or happiness is merely a good, but not ← 93 | 94 → the good. Once a good is taken as the good, one’s attention will be shifted from spiritual thirsting for the absolute good to a particular thing or concept. This is like taking the sun as a candle. If this happens, as Weil (2002b, p. 60) argued, “idolatry … a vital necessity in the cave,” will come to “set narrow limits for mind and heart”; the human spirit will stop functioning. Hence,...

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