Kaufmann on Green (more thoughts on becoming)

Tonight I continued to read and think about Green’s ideas of moral conscience. I read two articles; I want to focus my ideas here primarily on Kaufmann’s. Kaufmann’s article is more a review than a critique of Green’s book. Since I haven’t read the entire book (just the article “The Formation of Conscience in an Age of Technology”), this elucidated some additional aspects of Green’s ideas for me. In particular, these things struck me:

For Green, the formation of conscience occurs with the acquisition of norms. “…[T]his acquisition of norms is not to be understood as the acquisition of knowledge in a special sense, it has more to do with the building of feelings (25f.)” (p. 498). Similarly, Kaufmann writes: “norm acquisition is not to be understood as propositional knowing or learning, but rather as a shaping of our emotional lives. Norms are ‘not so much learned as they are inserted or built into us … they are constitutive of our emotional lives’ (43)” (p. 500). I found this interesting, since “the building of feelings” and “a shaping of our emotional lives” could be said to fall into the category of BECOMING.

Later, Kaufmann states that norm acquisition is the “‘acquisition of reflexive judgement’ (33)” and “goes hand in hand with the development of judgment” (p. 500). To my mind, this argues that critical thinking skills are requisite for norm acquisition (and thus, for the development of moral conscience, and thus, perhaps, for fulll BECOMING).

Another interesting point: Kaufmann says that Green feels that strong normation occurs with a “‘collective conscience’ (55) that is easier to find in small communities” (p. 500). I wonder how this ties into blended learning. In blended learning, is it easier to create the feeling of a small community than in purely distance environments? Or, on the other hand: perhaps creating small asynchronous discussion groups out of a large F2F lecture course of 250 people is one way to create a sense of small community. In any case, Green seems to feel that strong normation (essential to learning, becoming??) does better in conditions of “collective conscience” and small communities.


Alexander, H. (2000). Education and the Sacred: Thomas Greenʼs Educational Formation of Conscience. Journal of the Philosophy of Education, 34 (2): 395-400. doi:10.1111/1467-9752.00181. http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/1467-9752.00181.

Kaufmann, M. (2003). A Review of Thomas F. Green, 1999, Voices: The Educational Formation of Conscience. Studies in Philosophy and Education 22 (6):497-506.


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