The view that moral development takes place in function of the formation of a political outlook originates from certain social deformations. In fact, the spirituality of both society and the individual can be morally deficient and the moral crisis is rather one of values. This is due to the fact that morality pushed to the fringes of the spiritual life of man and society and was subordinated to politics and its value system. With the development of social activity and relations, society's value system is restructured and enriched. In these processes morality plays a key role: compared to religion, politics and law, it is the bearer of the greatest human potential. Therefore, the processes of humanization and dehumanization in society are related to the change in the place and the importance of morality in the structure of public values.


The process of moral formation takes place within the framework of action where religion, law, politics and the arts together exert moral influence. These forms of public consciousness intertwine, each being the bearer of particular values which may be reciprocally complementary, incompatible or contradictory. Their adjustments show to what extent morality, politics, law, the arts and religion, as intrinsic values, orient, regulate and shape the personality.

Where one is oriented by a particular kind of value as a norm or ideal (whether moral, legal, political or other) one or another value becomes dominant in the hierarchy of values. Religious, legal or moral forms of social consciousness, which are the bearers of concrete values, "move" either to the center or to the fringe of spiritual life.

Depending on which consistently gives meaning to human activity we may speak of "religious righteousness", "political maturity", "law-abiding person", or "moral maturity". Political maturity may be defined as a stable political orientation, and moral maturity as a stable moral orientation. Such stability comes as a result of the qualitative changes in one's entire development: in one's system of values, needs and motivation, and character traits.

When politics comes to be the nucleus of the social value system the formation of a definite political orientation assumes particular importance and the person's political evolution is stimulated. This creates a situation in which moral development is seen as minor and subordinate to political development and its natural follow-up. Criteria for the moral evaluation of social processes and of personality become politicized. Such politicization of the spiritual life of society stimulates the shaping of a personal world outlook in which political norms, ideals, evaluations, principles and notions are central.

Together, political and moral values essentially orient the person towards socially important targets and are mutually complementary. But does this mean that by molding political views, a person comes to a higher moral level? Does the political evolution lead to moral perfection? The significance of political values should not be belittled, all the more when the activity is oriented to such highly human political objectives as revolutionary restructuring, abolition of slavery, liberation from national and social oppression, etc. The molding of political views and the person's political activity are of essential importance above all to the development of social and class moral values. They create a true sense of social justice, public duty, and the like.

The most turbulent historic processes and the most sudden changes in moral outlook are associated with social and class relations. Motives are of central importance for moral evolution, whether these are moral motives of personal expression or such utilitarian motives as ambition for power, material wealth, social prestige, etc. This rule is valid also for political activity and relations: political evolution is a positive factor in the person's formation when accompanied by a respective evolution of moral values, motives, and virtues. When political goals are achieved at the cost of mass repressions, moral deformation marks the social atmosphere, the harmony between universal and class attitudes is broken in favor of class oriented values, and moral ideals lose touch with real life. Under such conditions, the moral sphere becomes idealized and stimulates normative behavior; the moral norm is raised to a cult and any deviation is rejected. Moral criteria of evaluation are substituted by the political and the universal criteria of a class; the balance between goals and means is disturbed in favor of the former with the result that acts which contradict universal morality are committed in the name of lofty social goals.

These common features of the deformation of the social values effect social moral ideals, evaluative norms and principles. Moral ideals, and social moral patterns in particular, are adapted to the cliches of the deformed conception of the priority of class values over universal ones. The estrangement of these patterns from the truth about society both originates from and intensifies the lack of correspondence between the ideal and the social reality. The absolutization of social values is amplified and becomes total: ideals turn into idols. The principle of social equality is raised to the level of a social value, whereas in social practice inequality is the case. The privileged position of certain strata breeds such immoral phenomena as bribes, protection, etc. In economics there is a slogan that says "everybody gets what he earns," but in real life this principle is substituted by another one: "everybody is paid according to his political and social status."


Deformations of social values affect the processes of personality formation. In social practice a number of alarming facts emerge: crime among youth is on the increase; a greater part of graduates from schools and universities is not prepared to participate in real life; skepticism is on the rise among young people, along with estrangement from the ideals of society and the pursuit of social activities outside social life (hippies, rockers, punks, etc.). All these bespeak serious perturbation in personal value systems and show that political stability is not a criterion for personal morality.

Investigations show that, when there is a discrepancy between ideals and reality, formalism on the part of elders in the upbringing of young people engenders in them deep personal conflict. They are torn between, on the one hand, what is inherent in the age as they strive towards fulfillment in the "elders' world", and, on the other hand, a negation of the concrete patterns found in the ideals and idols. This causes feelings of insincerity and estrangement from actual social life. Striving towards social activity is expressed in informal groups formed by young people between fourteen and twenty-four on the basis of common interests and activities and is oriented towards an alternative way of life. The rejection of social values may also assume such undesirable forms as in the absence of an ideal regulating behavior. Decisions are taken on the spur of the moment and impulsively. This implies a step backward in young people's personal development.

One-sidedness and inadequacy in one's concept of values cause a deformation of the regulative aims and their impact on the person. If certain values of universal importance are not moulded, one's system of values remains internally contradictory and underdeveloped; this, in turn, affects one's motivation, the development of inner needs and the peculiarities of moral character. Deformations in personal values are usually associated with immaturity in the moral motivation along with the formation of mercenary or other attitudes. The human character acquires such negative traits as hypocrisy, indifference, cruelty, arrogance, a proclivity towards a symbolic solution of real problems, despotism and irresponsibility. Steady changes set in and are expressed in both individual activity and social behavior in critical situations.

Personal values can specifically regulate behavior only when they are woven into the inner motivations which influence the formation of the human character. Ontogenesis requires change, both in content and inner structure. The most prominent of all expressions of structural development in the sphere of motivation and needs is the building of a hierarchy of motivations. According to A.N. Leontiev, this formation is due to two circumstances. First, in one's activity one is involved in complex social relations--with objective reality, other people with whom one works, one's social group and society itself; thus an activity may have several motivations. Second, these motives have unequal functional weight within the framework of a concrete activity so that one motive may be meaning-forming while another may be an incentive only in a given activity. The hierarchical structure of motives is formed not according to the scale of their proximity to biological needs, but according to their functional significance in a particular activity. In hierarchical relations the meaning-forming motive has higher status than does the incentive power.

Inclusion of personal moral motives in the motivational hierarchy introduces an entirely new meaning. When the moral motive takes a leading place in the activity, it becomes the bearer, not only of an incentive, but also of a meaning-forming function. This has the highest status with respect to other motives, for the aspiration to the good, to moral perfection, justice, etc., gives meaning to activity and lends it moral value.

The formation of the moral purposefulness of behavior is an important step in the moral development of the person. At the same time, for a complete moral formation, it is necessary to take yet another step towards stability in moral behavior. Every time a person is placed in new, untypical conditions he or she must make a decision governed by the socio-moral requirement that already had been assimilated as an inner motive. Thus, moral behavior involves building of a strong, variable and super-situational system, which makes possible decisions in specific situations that correspond to moral social requirements but, nevertheless, are not immediately and one-sidedly determined. Such value-factors are present in the decision as a genetic source of its moral charge. These characteristics of morality suggest that the process of moral formation is above all the creation of an approach to the solution of moral problems in concrete situations and is not reduced to the adoption of ready-made formulas for behavior.

Moral motives are stabilized during the process of development. The unfolding of this tendency contributes to building a so-called "moral approach" to life. The stabilization of moral motives, in turn, is built on the basis of the development of a personal system of values. This would be impossible without the development of moral ideals, norms, and values, as well as of moral thinking and concepts of good (versus bad), duty, responsibility, justice, etc. The formation of a steady moral orientation is possible due to the transformation of moral values into motives of behavior. This is the personal mechanism which ensures the formation of a "moral approach". Without development of this motivational system, which includes personal moral motives as part of the hierarchy, moral values cannot have a tangible effect upon the personality, for moral values and moral motives cannot be stabilized in the motivational hierarchy. While behavior reaches for the ideal, values "come down to earth", to real behavior, in order to "meet" and "construct" a moral orientation. This orientation of behavior turns into a general orientation--what we called a "moral approach"--as soon as the person "breathes" life into his or her intentions and convictions and desire becomes reality. In this process man's moral character occupies an important place.

Morality unites in itself to the highest degree those universal human values which reflect both man's and mankind's value; this is the most intimate point of the human soul. The shift of morality to the fringe of social life is soon followed by negative social and personal aftereffects. Almost irreversible moral deformations set in for the person, social institutions and public sensibilities.


The transformation of morality into a spiritual center of personal development is not a theoretical abstraction. Its foundations are laid as early as preschool age when the need of the child to be a "grownup" is being formed. This need has its moral dimension, for in the eyes of the three-year-old and six-year-old, "grownup" and the "good" are synonymous. An elder's model behavior stimulates the development of the personal system of values in the child, its evolution of both motivation and needs, and hence, its whole shaping as a person. Therefore, we may assert that morality is the nucleus of the evolution of the person.

Social development can create particularly favorable conditions for the establishment of morality as a center of spiritual development. Democratization of society liberates morality from the power of political objectives, assessments and criteria, from political intolerance and lack of compromise, and from subjection to the political positions being defended. Thus, universal human moral values and morality as a universal human regulator of social behavior are being revived. The social prerequisites in order for morality to take a worthy place in the life of man and society are being created.

Moral upbringing suffers yet another weakness, namely, the prejudice that problems are solved mainly through intellectual development, which would be the function of education. In fact, the primary task of education is the accumulation of knowledge and erudition as reflected in high grades. In this process, moral education is shifted into the background of seminars or class instruction and is reduced to a moralizing lecture.

In its place, cognitive psychology becomes the theoretical criterion of moral development. Both Jean Piaget and L. Kohlberg investigated the capacity of persons at different ages to carry out moral reasoning regarding norms and prescriptions. They studied reasoning regarding respect for moral norms ("behavior criterion"), and the feeling of guilt when violating the moral requirements ("emotional criterion"). Essentially, we may speak of behavioral and emotional criteria only approximatively, since they have been studying not a real behavior and emotional experience, but moral reasonings with specific content.

Piaget1 and Kohlberg present two types of reasons for introducing intellectual criteria in the analysis of moral development: theoretical and experimental. By means of parallel analysis of the intellectual-cognitive and motivational-need spheres they sought a direct correspondence between intellectual and moral development. The Russian psychologist, D.B. Elkonin notes,2 rightly, a number of basic defects in this naturalistic approach to psychic (mental) development:

(1) The child is looked upon as an isolated individual, in relation to whom society is considered to be only its surroundings.

(2) Mental development is interpreted as a process of adaptation to the conditions of society.

(3) Society is divided into two separate spheres: "the world of things" and "the world of people".

(4) The mechanisms of adaptation to "the world of things" and to "the world of people" are totally different.

Piaget's and Kohlberg's approach to the experimental study of moral reasoning in search of parallels between the development of the reasoning and morality of children, relies mainly on the child's intellectual insight into unaccustomed spheres of knowledge. The complex of notions used in this analysis of children's morality depends upon an integral philosophical conception. Analyzing the development of the child as a component of the "child-society" system, Piaget and Kohlberg evolve the thesis that human development consists in the elaboration of mechanisms of adaptation to the "world of things". This adaptation unites the multiple aspects of a child's development and is the law or universal mechanism of human development. The axis of this adaptive mechanism is one's logical development which implies the introduction of intellectual criterion into the investigation of morality. Their method of investigation is in full harmony with this.



In D.B. Elkonin's hypothesis regarding regularity of the processes of mental development, he examines the formation of personality in a "child in society", not a "child and society" system. This new vision radically changes the connection of "child-and-thing" and "child-and-grownup". From two independent systems, they are transformed into a unified system, within which the content of each is changed. The system "child-thing" becomes in reality "child-social object", and "child-social grown-up" represents a united process of forming the child's personality.

Analysis of primary activity and its psychological essence indicates that during mental development there are regular periods of the predominant development of the motivation-need sphere which alternate with periods in which the formation of operational-technical abilities of the child are primary. The process of personality development follows an ascending spiral, rather than being linear.

D.B. Elkonin's hypothesis shows, in the first place, the inconsistency of a parallel analysis of the intellectual-cognitive and the motivational-need development of the personality. Secondly, this is important for critical analysis because it shifts the accent from intellectual development as the center of all personality development--including its moral aspect--to the specific characteristics and changes of the social situation in which one's personality is moulded.

Regarding moral development as strongly linked to the development of the intellectual processes it should be noted that this is based on certain irrefutable facts concerning the early evolution of the child's moral reasoning. But to what extent can the maturity of separate moral phenomena be a criterion for the moral maturity of the personality; and more concretely, to what extent could intellectual development in the sphere of morality be an indicator of the entire moral molding of the personality? In our opinion, the early development of a child's moral reasoning is not the key to one's overall process moral development.

The functional, genetic and historio-heterogeneity of the processes characterizing the complete molding of the personalities determine the heterochroneity of physical, mental and social development. Heterochroneity is a characteristic feature not only of the integral and harmonious development of the person, but also one's physical, mental and social aspects. Thus, for example, B.G. Ananiev focuses on the heterochroneity in mental processes, and I.S. Konn shows it to be a characteristic of the person's social development.

Experimental data in psychology3 provide grounds for assuming that the separate phenomena typical of morality also are formed in a heterochronological way. Therefore, it is necessary to distinguish between the development of a separate moral phenomenon such as moral reasoning, on the one hand, and moral maturity as an overall feature of the moral development of the person, on the other.

Moral reasoning is one of the earliest moral expressions of the child. In the communication process a child appraises his or her own deed and the deeds of the others, his or her own personality and that of partners; in game situations the child evaluates the performers.

A main conclusion of our investigation4 is that reasoning regarding an action is differentiated from personality in the child's moral thinking. Experiments show that moral reasoning about the person is built on the basis of the maturity of moral reasoning about actions. It is proven convincingly that estimative moral reasoning reaches its maturity at a later stage, though some forms of estimative moral reasoning (eg. regarding the deed) are being shaped at the end of preschool and at the beginning of school age, when personality is still in its initial stages of moral development. As this comparatively early formation of children's moral reasoning is an adequate indicator of the development of moral thinking and of moral intellect, the heterochroneity in moral development devalues estimative moral reasoning as a criterion for the overall moral development of the personality.

Moral development could be characterized by only one criterion, namely, the intellectual, if the functioning and development of the cognitive and moral processes were parallel or if the cardinal issues regarding the functioning and development of morality were resolved in the intellectual-cognitive sphere.

However, the heterochroneity there is an indicator of a rather complicated structure of morality, which is reflected also in differences in the phenomena of action, interpersonal relations, values and thinking, language and mentality. Morality is reflected throughout all these moral phenomena, each of which appears to store in itself the richness of the moral phenomena. The reason for their intermingling in any one moral phenomena should be sought in their proper requirements. Thus, development in moral thinking is inconceivable without a corresponding development in moral action and social relations. Specific moral problems and situations of conflict stimulate the rationalization and analysis of values, the elaboration of moral estimative capabilities, and the development of personal moral reasonings, conclusions, conceptions, etc. Each new step in the development of moral thinking and understanding contributes to a further development in the other moral phenomena.

Such interrelated character of the phenomena in the moral sphere is the main reason for the illusion that, by analyzing one of them, morality as an over all phenomenon is also being analyzed, as with Piaget and Kohlberg. In the sphere of moral thinking, personal motives, moral feelings and experiences, personal values and phenomenon in the world of morality are all reflected in moral language. Similarly, they are reflected by and through thought or cognition without being reduced thereto.

Because moral and cognitive processes do not develop in parallel, we cannot study the sphere of morality by analogy to the intellectual processes. Analysis and synthesis, deduction and moral conceptualization, etc., are necessary moments of shaping moral behavior, social relations, moral motivation and personal value systems. The study of moral motivation reveals the cognitive processes to be of primary importance, for moral thinking and intellect determine the possibility for knowledge of moral values. At the same time, just knowing moral motives and an ability for value analysis are not sufficient to provide moral motivation for human behavior. Intellectual development alone in the sphere of morality cannot bring about the formation of the moral convictions which will provide steady motivation for the person's behavior.

Thus, the significance of the cognitive processes in the moral development of the personality could be characterized by the following specific features:

-The development of social relations and social activity, of estimative characteristics, and of value orientation in the concrete situation result in advancing intellectual development in the sphere of moral thinking. General intellectual development, the formation of moral knowledge, the development of moral reasoning and conclusions, etc., give new meaning to moral values.

-The development of the moral intellect, in turn, is instrumental in the further development of each moral phenomenon. For this reason it is a necessary condition for moral molding of the person.

-At the same time, intellectual development alone is not enough to shape the person morally. Hence, an intellectual criterion is not an entirely reliable indicator of the person's moral formation.

-The interrelation between intellectual and moral evolution is determined by the development of social activity and social relations, where the person is situated due to its overall evolution as a social being.

To overcome the purely intellectual orientation in the moral upbringing we should transform the entire system of education, which should be turned into a formative system, using educative means. The fact that in any moral activity choice is free in no way implies that moral upbringing does not have its own subject matter and its own tasks. It must overcome its own dependence on politics and intellectual development; it must overcome its lack of specific definition and find and defend its specific moral character and "identity". Undoubtedly, the theory of moral education has cultural and social value of its own.


1. Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgement of the Child (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1948).

2. D.B. Elkonin, On the Problem of Periodization of Mental Development in Childhood in "Questions of Psychology" (New York, 1971), pp. 6-20.

3. J. Piaget, The Moral Judgement of the Child (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1948).

4. E. Marinova, Personality and Actions in Children's Moral Judgements (1980); Moral Judgements of Children Preschool Age and Its Congress of Psychologists of Bulgaria, (1977).