Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.




DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L091-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 15, 2024, from

Article Summary

‘Self-realization’ is the development and expression of characteristic attributes and potentials in a fashion which comprehensively discloses their subject’s real nature. Usually, the ‘self’ in question is the individual person, but the concept has also been applied to corporate bodies held to possess a unitary identity.

What constitutes the self’s ‘real nature’ is the key variable generating the many conceptions of self-realization. These can be grouped broadly into two types: (1) the ‘collectivist’, in which the self-realizing lifestyle, being either the same for all or specific to a person or subgroup of people, is ultimately definable only in the context, and perhaps with reference to the common purposes, of a collective social body; (2) the ‘individualist’, in which a person’s self-realization has no necessary connection with the ends of a particular community.

As an ethic, self-realization can be proposed as the means to achieve a life identified as good by some criterion independent of the self-realizing process, or held to be that which actually defines the good. Its critics typically argue that human nature is such that any equation of ‘self-realization’ and ‘goodness’ is implausible or undesirable.

Citing this article:
Evans, Mark. Self-realization, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L091-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

Related Searches


Related Articles