(samovospitanie), a person’s systematic activity, aimed at developing or improving moral, physical, and aesthetic qualities and habits of behavior to correspond with a socially determined ideal.
The content of self-perfecting always depends on the social and historical conditions under which the individual lives and develops. The individual’s demands on himself, as well as the qualities he seeks to develop, are determined by his living conditions, which establish the ideological principles and ideals of self-perfecting, as well as the means for achieving them. Marx wrote: “My own being is social activity; and therefore, what I make of my own person, I make out of myself for society, recognizing myself as a social being” (in K. Marx and F. Engels, Iz rannikhproizvedenii, Moscow, 1956, p. 590).
In antagonistic class society the aims of self-perfecting and the means of engaging in it vary, depending on the class. In socialist society the aims of self-perfecting for each conscious citizen are determined by common goals—building communism and providing for the comprehensive development of every individual. Self-perfecting is part of communist education and part of the entire process of the people’s cultural development. In public activity, at work, and in school, when a certain level of consciousness and self-knowledge is reached, a person also develops the capacity for self-analysis, self-observation, and self-evaluation, as well as the ability to understand the actions of others, and he arrives at the realization that the personal features of his behavior must correspond to the requirements of socialist society and communist morality.
Even during adolescence one becomes familiar with various forms and methods of self-perfecting such as self-criticism, self-persuasion, autosuggestion, obligation to oneself, and imaginatively putting oneself in another’s place. During one’s youth the link between self-perfecting and self-education, the active striving for moral and physical self-improvement, becomes stronger. A number of factors contribute to the formation of correct views regarding reality, temper the will, and raise the consciousness of the citizens of socialist society, including the conscious overcoming of obstacles to the achievement of noble purposes, competition with others to attain these purposes, maintenance of an irreconcilable attitude toward one’s shortcomings, and critical and systematic examination of one’s own behavior.
An individual’s personal qualities are developed through self-perfecting in the family and in educational and production groups. Important factors motivating self-perfecting are the demands of the group to which one belongs, the desire to be worthy of a favorable response to one’s actions, and the wish to increase one’s authority with one’s comrades.
Socialist society makes high demands on every citizen and continually expands the possibilities for self-perfecting. The results of self-perfecting are tested in daily practice, as well as by the role self-perfecting plays in improving the individual and the group, in conformity with the demands of communist morality. Social demands and the individual’s desire for self-perfecting based on communist ideals become more closely and more harmoniously combined in developed socialist society.
S. M. KOVALEV [22–15874]