Self-realization refers to the development and fulfillment of potential on an individual. In the theory of self-actualization, it is perceived that, an individual life of Excellency highly bases on the actualization of human potentiality. In a political perspective, self-realization is refers to a process of individuals attaining freedom from external coercion, which include both economic and political freedom, freedom from earthly desires and attachment as well as freedom from cultural demands. There are four fundamental conditions, which are necessary for individuals to attain self-realization or self-development in the modern society. These conditions are equality, freedom, reciprocity, and democracy. Thus the papers seeks to discuss the four fundamental conditions namely, equality, freedom, reciprocity and democracy, which are necessary for self-realization or development in a political theory while underpinning the argument with political thoughts of theorists John Stuart Mill and Michel Foucault’s in the book “On Liberty” and “Discipline & Punish” respectively.
The first vital condition is equality. Equality means that individuals would have equal access to power, instruments of labour among other resources that are deemed vital for human beings’ development. In an agent capacity, no one has a right to enjoy factors that boost self-development at the expense of others (Mill, 35). Equality is considered as a more essential condition for self-realization as lack of it may cause one group to exercise dominance in a direct way over another. Similarly, Lack of equality renders freedom in self-development to become empty, as mere possession of resources does not guarantee the attainment of self-realization. Conversely, The problem with this argument is that, when individual are placed at an equal ground, they may not attain self-realization as they have unique natural capability such as talent, personality and values (Mill, 41). Another problem is that, other people may utilize the equitable resources to develop negative aspects such as corruption, manipulation, and lies.
Similarly.In Mill’s attempt to make a case for perfect equality, he uses an example of gender equality, whereby women were were being exploited. According to Mill, women were being treated as slaves, a phenomenon that greatly hindered their improvement as well as self-realization. Women’s ability to attain self-development was stagnated since they did not have equal access to education as men. Additionally, Mill also suggests that equality is key for individual to develop by arguing that it should begin by dissemination of political and administrative power. Relatedly, Foucault covered on the subject of equality by emphasizing that equal access to power and knowledge is vital for every individual as lack of it may lead to punishment. According to Foucault, the modern society uses supervision and system of institution to measure human knowledge against the societies norms on the basis of their behavior (Foucault, 60).
The second condition is freedom. Freedom emanates from the doctrine of equality as one enjoys freedom when they have free access to various kind of necessary resources. Individual are said to enjoy freedom when they can access intelligent, talent or character as well as wealth. Freedom is split into two, which are, the internal freedom and the external freedom. The internal freedom includes right to basic freedom such freedom of expressing feeling, ideas, proposal, and speech (Mill, 112). Therefore, complete freedom will boosts people’s inner aspects such as personality, habits, needs, values and emotions, which are key for self-realization. Internal freedom capacity is vital as it allows an individual to realize his total personalities, which leads to positive freedom. In others words, an individual mind should be fully involved to its potentiality to earn the freedom of mind. In a situation where the mind is not fully engaged to its potentiality or it is not in a position to exploit all the available facilities, then its freedom is restricted, external freedom includes the right to own properties and enter into contracts in accordance with the stipulated guidelines (Mill, 87). These tend to grant individual with economic freedom, hence enabling them to attain self-realization.
Freedom has been a major theme in Mill’s coverage in the book “On Liberty.” Mills argues that the intensive contestation about freedom and liberty actions in the society today helps individuals towards achieving a greater level of self-realization as it fights for their opportunities. However, Mill says that, “in spite the fact that freedom can be made universal, self-realization cannot be uniform to every individuals as each one has a unique trait such as talent, personality, and values.” (Mill, 52). Additionally, Mill declares that the fact that freedom creates different kind of self-realization implies that such freedom can be at odds with the plans for leaders and reformers to the improvement of the people’s welfare.
The third condition is reciprocity. Reciprocity is referred to as a moral value that is rooted in individuals’ relational traits to utilize their freedom and equality. As equality and freedom are essential in the establishment of self-realization, then reciprocity becomes important automatically as it uses an implication of the elements of freedom and equality (Foucault, 150). When individuals comprehend what is necessary and important for their development process, they get insight and are obliged to reciprocate the same conditions to others. In others words, one realizes how to motivate others once they lean how to motivate themselves. Under customary reciprocity, individual self-development is created by the sense of recognition and identity received from expressing equality and freedom to fellow individuals. Additionally, self-realization can be established by a small expression of customary reciprocity such as the thank you statement.
Foucault underpinned the argument by suggesting that the universal human rights are fringed with human notion of responsibility and reciprocity of care. He said that, “Every individual rely on each other in the process of attaining self-realization as they each have an irreplaceable role to play.” (Foucault, 93). Further, Foucault argues that, the society ought to practice equality with utmost integrity to every group of human beings as a reciprocation of equilibrium and sustainability provided by nature. In his theme of power and knowledge, Foucault concluded that individuals will not only enjoy self-realization but also enjoy harmony and peace among each other when the society practices proper reciprocity (Foucault, 200).
The fourth condition is democracy. Democracy is defined as a government for the people of the people by the people (Mill, 59). In this respect, democracy comprises of equality, freedom, and reciprocity. An environment of democracy is created where there are no unfair restrictions and distribution of resources is a society. For example, access to power should be equally be distributed in a society by encouraging a free and fair representation in a manner that satisfy both the majority and the minority. Concerning the instruments of labour, democracy ought to ensure that there is freedom in the right to work. In the society, individuals should have the chance to choose employment that offers proper working condition and good remuneration packages. Right to the free choice of employment will serve as a vital tool to inspired people towards self-realization and self-development (Foucault, 183). Relatedly, the Universal Declaration of human rights assert that the right to work as well as declaring self-realization through work. However, in a society where democracy is deprived, self-realization will be hampered by people’s struggle to balance between the actions that generate scarce resources and the actions that consumes them (Mill, 86). In such circumstances, chaos tend to ensue when the powerful individuals attempts to overwrite the individual’s right to persue the means of self-realization
According to Mills, the idea of liberal democracy is measured on the degree of participation of citizens and the competency of the rulers. For instance, Mill is one of the theorists who advocated for plural voting, whereby more qualified candidates are given extra votes, an idea that was hugely rejected by other theorists. Similarly, Mill notably advocated for women right votes as the definition of democracy encompasses women, Mill says, “Women will earn a sense of self-realization if granted the right to participate in the election of their representative as they will feel that their voices counted.” (Mill, 28). Foucault had a different opinion on the same, as he believed that society should operate in a meticulous basis where restrictions to certain aspects are controlled through a series of punishment. In this respect, freedom would be deprived and this will hinder self-realization and self-development on individuals.
From the argument, it is clear that for an individual to attain a greater level of self-realization, four fundamental conditions namely, equality, freedom, reciprocity, and democracy must be put in place. Equality places people at a uniform platform to develop their living standards. As a result, every human will develop sense of self- realization. Additionally, Freedom relies on the degree of equality in a society in that, once people have the accessibility to important to resources, their rights is assumed to have been observed. Freedom to human rights also gives individuals a sense of self-realization as they feel as part of the society. Reciprocity has also emerged as a necessary condition for self-realization as it urges individual to return the share of equality and freedom to others to boost their level of self-realization. Lastly, democracy serves as a common necessity that will only exist if a society practices equality as well as observing citizen’s freedom. In a perfect democratic environment, individual have a higher affinity of attaining self-actualization.