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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 Seven: Conscientization: Educational Necessity and Cultural Significance



Conscientization is a praxical need in current educational and cultural contexts. It offers an alternative to counter the antihumanist character of globalization and neo-liberalism. At the same time, it also fits in with the progressive trend of postmodernism and thus plays a significant role in promoting a more free and democratic culture across the globe.

It is widely believed that the end of the Cold War (the collapse of the Berlin wall and the Soviet Union) and the advanced development of information technology have brought capitalism to its latest version: globalization, an economic form underpinned by the ideology of neo-liberalism. The most basic philosophical assumption of neo-liberalism is that human beings are homo economicus. As Hayek (2001) claimed, it is to fulfill “the ‘End of Economic Man’” (p. 208). Thus, by taking the notion of individual freedom as a political underpinning, neo-liberalists stress the free play of competition and the free market system as an economic arena. In such a discourse, the notion of equality and state intervention becomes a social obstacle to entrepreneurship, but inequality is hailed as a good thing, a stimulus to drive a person to be strong, competitive, and successful. As Sen (1987) contended, Hayek’s ← 145 | 146 → notion of free economic beings merely makes human beings isolated from society and turns them into a self-interested, rational, and utility maximizer.

In response to this kind of philosophical impact, globalization, a shared global market, has come into being. As Murphy...

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