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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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The internal logic of the topic of this book, cultivation of conscience and conscientization, is that the love and dialogue nexus performs a transcendent role in transforming people from the dark cave of self-indulgence into the moral sphere. This is the sphere in which the work of conscience will uphold social and cultural criticism against oppressive elements within a given political and economic system. In particular, love of the good and life and dialogue—meeting the other face-to-face, eye-to-eye, in the I–Thou relation through one’s conscience of welcoming the other—make conscientization and any other genuine educational act possible, not vice versa.

Love and dialogue might seem fragile in the face of dehumanization such as armed injustice. However, this should not lead to an exaggeration of brutal force such as military weapons, falsely conceived as greatness in a tradition of totality, and end up with idolatry of the political power of the state apparatus. This is because any users of cannons and tanks are human beings. It is crucial to realize that love and dialogue not only create a spiritual home for human existence but also hold the greatest transforming and constructive power for building a humanizing community.

It must be noted that the well-being of love and dialogue might be affected by three regressive trends in contemporary sociocultural discourse. One is that the erosion of traditional forms of justification of morality brings about the worship ← 183 | 184 → of the self, nihilism, and...

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