One of the Objectives of Freemasonry (in a global sense) is to provide oportunities for self development. So what exactly IS self-development?. Self development could be - improving your relationships with your friends and family, working to develop your skills at work or at a hobby you have (my current hobby is Call of Duty Black Ops..), or developing your understanding of both the material and spritual world around you.
Self development is defined as "The growth of the individual person's abilities by the individual himself", within the context of historical operative masonry, this was concerned with the individual with developing his skill as a master craftsman. Through each of the operative degrees, the mason demonstrated his abilities as a developing tradesman, with the advent of purely speculative Freemasonry, self-development was redefined as a broadening of the mind, intellect and talents (looking at the Fellowcraft degree and the 7 Liberal arts expounded there)
Through the individuals self development, Society begins to develop - therefore Masonic self development, is not just for the individual, but for the good of society itself.
Looking at this struggle to develop the world around us through our own education extolled through Masonic ritual, we can perceive how Freemasonry examines the World in general - this is taken from Retrospect on the Third Degree - W.Bro Phill Hellier
"Freemasonry percieves the world to be composed of two dimensions, material and spiritual. With regards to the spiritual dimension, Freemasonry takes a monotheisti view. That is, one God is acknowledged, and is believed to exist as a distinct being, who created the world and exists through and in the world. God is also the ultimate basis for determining moral and good human behaviour"
When we look at the first degree Retrospect says:
"...above all it taught you to bend with humility and resignation to the will of the GAOTU, and to dedicate your heart, thus purified from every baneful and malignant passion, fitted only for the reception of truth and virtue, as well to his glory as for the welfare for your fellow creatures"