Philosophy is not only an academic inquiry or an intellectual discipline alone, it is rather an approach, an outlook and a way of life.
It is against this background that this essay will consider Foucault position on self-formation, Althusser’s view on social formation and Deleuze’s connection in relating the two together.Self-formation is a process in which an object or phenomenon is transformed by itself to adapt its shape or character from the external forces. It can thus be said that the self is formed by external forces which include an educational system.
The ultimate goal of Foucault’s notion of ethical self-formation is foundational to issues of the proper response to ‘the other’ and to the maintenance of pluralistic and creative spaces in our society, all of which are rightly educational concern (Infiniti 155). Foucault in an article titled “self-writing” however maintained the nexus between writing and reading which is the basis of education and how the Nexus plays an important role in self-formation. Here writing about oneself appears clearly in its relationship of complementarity with reclusion: it palliated the danger of solitude; it offers what one has done or thought to a possible gaze; the fact of obliging oneself to write plays the role of a companion by giving the fear of disapproval and to shame (Foucault 415). Taking cognizance of the educational factor brings about the formation of a morally upright self.
Therefore, writing and reading cannot be overlooked in self-formation as it shapes who a person eventually becomes.Social formation is a Marxist concept referring to the concrete, historical articulation between the capitalist mode of production, persisting pre-capitalist modes of production, and the institutional context of the economy. Althusser and Balibar define a social formation as a totality of instances articulated on the basis of a determinate mode of production. The instances to which Althusser and Balibar refer are themselves distinct structural levels of social relations and practices each possessing a functional unity and composed of more specific structures. Practice is central to the every instance (Resch 36). The thrust of Althusser’s thinking is not to oppose the human and the inhuman rather it is to comprehend the contradictions between and within the structured relations and practices that constitutes human beings as social subjects and constitutes places, positions, and role as the social space within all human practice necessarily occurs. Social formations are a complex hierarchy of functionality organized institutions or instances whose unity can neither be ignored altogether nor reduced to a single closed system (Resch 37). Thus, social formation cannot be understood either as a structure in which everything causes everything else or in a way in which every practice may be understand as a microcosm of the whole.
In discussing the relation between self-formation and social formation, reference will be made to Deleuze’s philosophy. In Deleuze’s philosophy, connection requires a style of thought that might be called “empiricist or pragmatic (Rajchman 6). Since connections are not already given, it must always be made. Human beings are the ones involved in self-formation relates to social formation in the sense that it is foundational to structures in the society. Literally, social formation can be seen as an aggregate of self-formation bit in the sense in which it is used by Althusser, it places social structure at the fore but did not dismiss the space occupied by human beings, the social subjects. Thus, bringing out the connection that is not originally given.