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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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Preface and Acknowledgments

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My preoccupation with human suffering has evoked a deep interest in, and concern for, humanity—the goodness, worthiness, and dignity of being “human.” There is also a similar curiosity about the individual and collective loss of humanity and the unnecessary human suffering of others, all without which there could be no discourse of humanity.

My interest has been shaped by my birth and 39-year upbringing in China and fueled by my observation of the historic events that have unfolded in my homeland, from Mao’s cultural revolution, through Deng’s reform and open policies, to the introduction of the market system for economic growth. Problems arising from these significant events created an environment that led many of my generation to question the purpose and the outcomes of the measures taken by successive governments in China: What was the revolution about? Why did the socialist system fail to live out its essence as theorized? In particular, in light of the subsequent corruption and injustice and the increasingly widening gap between rich and poor within China, the question must be posed: What was the use of Mao’s revolution? Did millions of people die in vain attempting to set up a socialist system?

The prospect of addressing the concerns and questions I held in a more substantive way arrived in 2006 during my time as a Master of Education postgraduate student at the University of Canterbury in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In reading ← vii | viii → Paulo Freire’s (1972a) seminal work, Pedagogy...

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