Self-Knowledge and the Self

Self-Knowledge and the Self

Self-Knowledge and the Self

Self-Knowledge and the Self

Synopsis

Can we ever really answer the question, "who am I"? In this remarkably clear, fresh and persuasive treatment of a long-standing philosophical question, Jopling argues that we can acquire self-knowledge, but that our attempts to know ourselves shape and alter the very self that is their object; that is, the self we come to know is dependent on how it is known.

Excerpt

When does the butterfly in flight read what’s written on its wings?

—Neruda, Book of Questions

By setting off you would never find out the ends of the soul, though you should tread along every path: so deep a measure [logos] does it have.

—Heraclitus

THREE TRADITIONS

The inscription above the gates of the ancient temple of the oracle at Delphi served as an injunction to all those who passed below it: Gnothi seauton, “Know thyself!” This injunction, which became a popular theme in ancient philosophy and drama, and which served as a terse and easily memorizable maxim for moral conduct in everyday life, continues to exert its hold over the popular imagination. In commonsense psychology, clinical psychology and psychotherapy, religion, and philosophy, among other domains of life, we are enjoined to know ourselves better than we currently do; to clarify our lives and our life histories, and the values that inform them; and to live with a

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