Conscientization and the Cultivation of Conscience
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This philosophical study is set within Paulo Freire’s radical, critical and liberating pedagogical theoretical discourse. If conscientization is defined by Freire as the cultivation of critical consciousness and conscience, it not only provides a stimulus for better understanding of the root causes of human suffering and dehumanization or the loss of humanity but also brings full effect to humanization, an effective approach to address dehumanization problems. While the cultivation of critical consciousness tackles social system and ideological crises, the cultivation of conscience addresses human consciousness problems such as insatiable human desire represented in varying forms of egoism, ambition, lust, greed, and craving for social status. Thereby, as an educational initiative, conscientization can readily and sustainably maintain both self and social empowerment when it is deeply rooted in the praxis of changing the world. The study attempts to achieve three major tasks. The first is to clarify what conscience is and what notion of conscience has internal coherence with the process of conscientization. The second is to determine how to cultivate conscience. The third is to incorporate the cultivation of conscience into conscientization. Like Freire, I draw on a number of different philosophical traditions and perspectives. Where necessary in order to illustrate particular theoretical points, consideration is also given to a number of literary works. The notion of conscience is explored by tracing its historical development. The dialectical relation between consciousness and conscience − in particular, what causes their conflict − is also examined. The investigation of conscience concludes with identifying conscience as a unifying agent in its dialectical relationship with consciousness. The investigation of the dynamism of conscience starts with the confirmation of conscience as the basis of morality. Thereafter, the discussion focuses on why conscience works in a moral sphere, which necessitates a transcendence of blind human biological desire and utilitarian concern for the self. The rationalist tradition of transcendence has undermined, segmented and alienated human life. The transcendent functions of love and dialogue, two ontological ways of human existence, offer an alternative and are justified as the effective mechanisms for cultivating conscience. However, love and dialogue cannot resist armed injustice and inequality. This calls for the integration of the cultivation of conscience into conscientization. In so doing, the interrelatedness and interdependence between the cultivation of critical consciousness and the cultivation of conscience are examined while their distinctive and irreplaceable roles and functions are further specified. In terms of application, the educational and cultural significance of conscientization for the present and the future and possibilities for applying it to concrete educational discourses are explored.