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Title: The concept of self-realization in political theory
Author: Evans, Mark Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1993
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This thesis aims to elaborate a plausible conception of self-realization and defend the claims that: {a} the concept in general is a valid concern of modern political theory; {b} the conception it proposes provides an ideal which can play a workable and desirable role in shaping the structure of modern political institutions and the content of specific policies. I begin by examining the conceptual definition of "modern" thought, proposing to explore how "self-realization" may be conceived in a way which respects the terms of this definition. I justify the separate existence of my proposed theory by showing that its conception of self-realization is clearly distinct from, but compatible with, autonomy and that its consequences for political practice are also interestingly different from policies promoting autonomy alone. The relevance of this is justified by a general defence of perfectionism in politics. I develop the theory by examination of conceptions of self-realization in the political thought of Aristotle, John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx. The structure, underlying assumptions and political import of each is considered in order to understand how selfrealizationist theories work and to see what, if anything, from these thinkers remains pertinent. My ("general") theory of self-realization is built from a critique of the Marxist concept of communism. The final chapter consolidates these foundations, constructing the "general conception" with some of the critically-tested ideas from earlier chapters. A new way of conceptualizing the self for the purposes of political theory is offered, justifying this melding of ideas from disparate traditions into one conception. Possible policy consequences of the latter are summarized, drawing heavily on the conclusions of the author-based chapters. The study concludes by presenting an argument which might be offered for the claim that this new conception of self-realization is worth promoting through political action.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Self-realization