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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nosce te ipsum

The Ancient Greek aphorism "Know yourself", Greek: γνῶθι σεαυτόν gnōthi seauton (also ... σαυτόν ... sauton with the ε contracted), was inscribed in the pronaos (forecourt) of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi - according to the Greek periegetic (travelogue) writer Pausanias (10.24.1).
The aphorism has been attributed to at least six ancient Greek sages:
Chilon of Sparta (Chilon I 63, 25)
Solon of Athens
Thales of Miletus
Other sources attribute it to Phemonoe, a mythical Greek poetess. In a discussion of moderation and self-awareness, the Roman poet Juvenal quotes the phrase in Greek and states that the precept descended de caelo (from heaven) (Satire 11.27).
The saying "Know thyself" may refer by extension to the ideal of understanding human behavior, morals, and thought, because ultimately to understand oneself is to understand other humans as well. However, the ancient Greek philosophers thought that no man can ever comprehend the human spirit and thought thoroughly, so it would have been almost inconceivable to know oneself fully. Therefore, the saying may refer to a less ambitious ideal, such as knowing one's own habits, morals, temperament, ability to control anger, and other aspects of human behavior that we struggle with on a daily basis.
It may also have a mystical interpretation. 'Thyself', is not meant in reference to the egotist, but the ego within self, the I AM consciousness.
In Latin, the aphorism is generally given as nosce te ipsum. The Latin version of the aphorism is written on a plaque above the Oracle's door in the Matrix film series, where it is rendered in a non-traditional Latin; that is to say temet nosce ("thine own self thou must know") translated in the Matrix as know thyself.
In the true theological sense, "Know Thyself" is a fundamental tenet of the question of life's meaning. To truly 'know oneself' in this sense involves a deeply personal, spiritual transformation whereby a person would seek to orient themselves towards understanding their own phenomenological perceptions of reality, so as to gain earnest insight into aspects of one's own existence. Thus the theological sense of "Know Thyself" entails an experiential revolution of spirit in the sense of the Socratic periagoge

I post this as it never ceases to amaze me the number of people I encounter who really seem to have no idea who they are. Not that I'm the prince of knowing myself, but I do try.

Most telling are the perceptions of others. What do other people, those who know you, say about you?

I am a social animal. I like to have lots of folks around all the time. We connect, talk to one another and see just what's what.

So, anyone who reads my posts. Please share a thought won't you?


  1. Actually, the perceptions of others are only that, perceptions. They cannot know "you". So what they say about you is only a reflection of themselves; a part of who they are. A brief philosophical moment...ok, it's gone now!! LOL

    I have read all your posts so far...keep writing. I enjoy reading and sometimes, for one's self, it's cathartic to have a place to doodle your thoughts...



  2. Ahhhh yes, but their perceptions of you are their reality.

  3. Jack,

    I've often pondered the definitions of self. We all have a limited view of the world through a window. Our windows are usually a frame of perception based on our experiences.

    As no two people generally see events in the same light, nor do we view people the same. Often times we can't help but be swayed by the prejudices we carry.

    There are typically three definitions of self, what others see us as, what we see ourselves as, and what we truly are. If we learn to manipulate the first view, that of others, we might see that as being successful in life. However, perhaps not sincere.

    Fulfillment comes when the view of self closely matches what the self truly is. The key is not in changing your view, but in changing yourself to match the view you wish to have. So in that sense, to know one's self is to be your own master. Self determination.

    Spoken or unspoken, we all have an internal code of principles. When we actively allign ourselves to live in accordance with our principles, we have chosen to live according to the maps we design for ourselves. In this way, we intimately know ourselves.


  4. Anthony, Appreciate your comments.

    I'm apparently not such a hoy manipulator of other's views. Suffice to say, I am loved, generally speaking. These days I am isolated, at one time I was famous, albeit on a very small stage.

    The point of the original post was to build a foundation for some thoughts I have held for some time. That one bing that there are soooooo many people I encounter who seem to have no idea who they are, what they want or where they're going.

  5. My issues lately is knowing which self I am and intertwining them to the best of my ability. Sometimes I find blogging pulls my parts apart more than brings them together. But understanding this has helped me.