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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 Eight: The Pedagogical Possibilities of Conscientization



Conscientization, the cultivation of critical consciousness and conscience, as a main agency of cultural subversion, is pedagogically feasible. It has the potential to be realized in concrete daily pedagogical situations.

Conscientization can fundamentally uphold humanizing education. Its theoretical worthiness may reenvision education as a revolutionary intervention and a human act that fosters pedagogical love and simultaneously nurtures and protects epistemological curiosity. This reenvisioning also encourages the posing of new and different questions to better understand the notion of the individual in the formal educational settings.

Conscientization Promotes Education as Revolutionary Intervention

To engage a humanizing education process fully, it would seem necessary to better understand, for instance, the nature of the individual person. Here, Bruner’s (1990) cultural explanation of human beings is helpful. Bruner is a psychologist who stresses folk psychology and narrative explication but objects to explaining ← 169 | 170 → human beings biologically. For him, human biological inheritance is not the universal cause of human action and experience, so it cannot direct or shape human life but impose constraints on the human mind. He attempts to propose a view that will reverse the traditional relation of biology and culture with respect to individuation, and particularly, human nature. He remarked as follows:

Cultures characteristically devise “prosthetic devices” that permit us to transcend “raw” biological limits … it is culture that gives meaning to action by situating its underlying intentional states in an interpretive system. It does this by imposing the...

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