Concepts of Self-Knowledge

Many people do not understand the meaning of self-knowledge. Perhaps this is the reason why some people term it a misleading idea full of danger and difficulty. Other people go as far as suggesting that self-knowledge is a mere social convention whose real legitimacy exists not. Nevertheless, before discussing the two statements, it is imperative to explain the real meaning of self-knowledge.

Many literature materials define self-knowledge as the ability to know the person in you confidentially. Self-knowledge therefore involves recognition of personal thoughts and feelings, especially on how they develop, and how they influence individual behavior. In most cases, self-knowledge is all about understanding your beliefs, inspirations, desires, principles and wants. It is a philosophy of self.

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However, due to different perceptions on self-knowledge, most philosophical definitions of self-knowledge appear in first person for example, Descartes, Hume and Locke. For instance, definitions of self-knowledge from third person point of view only give the notion of objectivity and operationalism hence, misleading.

This is where many people find self-knowledge a misleading idea. To another person, self-knowledge occurs when an individual demonstrates personal discourse and conduct. Thus, according to those who believe that self-knowledge is a misleading idea, it is hard to determine the person’s intentions unless inferring the person indirectly. Up to this point, they think that the concept of self-knowledge is dangerous and difficult as it is not good to infer to other people’s affairs or intentions (Brie, p.1).

Another group of people believes that self-knowledge is a mere social convention with no legitimacy. By this, they imply the concept of self-knowledge does not exist at all. During the heyday of behaviorism, many philosophers differed on whether self-knowledge is a philosophical concept or just a mere social convention.

Some philosophers such as Aquinas suggested that self-knowledge is the ability to observe self-behavior hence, a social convention. He also criticized the idea that self-knowledge involves a distinctively unswerving epistemic process. Aquinas also retorted that if at all self-knowledge is undeviating; no one would be in a position to seize the higher-order mental condition hence, regress (Justyna, p.1).

Diverse criticisms on self-knowledge started during the philosophical days of Descartes, Locke, William and others. Nevertheless, these criticisms depend on one’s view of self-knowledge.

It is imperative to note that the difference of views on self-knowledge emanate from psychological and philosophical viewpoints. According to myself, the idea that self-knowledge is misleading and exhibits difficulty or danger is ill motive. To me, self-knowledge emanates from creating relationships with people around you so that you learn their intentions and characters.

For instance, you can learn people’s gestures, dress codes, the way they talk, their obsequiousness or condescension. To me, this is how self-knowledge exhibits in a person. In addition, self-knowledge comes when a person is able to understand self and recognize his or her deeds. Perhaps the major reason why many people think that self-knowledge is a mere social convention is that they know little about their minds.

They do not understand that their minds differ from ordinary minds and each person is unique. Consequently, these persons lack self-knowledge sometimes characterized by cripplingly low self-esteem. Without understanding your personal mind, it is impossible to identify yourself as gifted and once this occurs, it becomes difficult to incorporate your identification into personal senses. Eventually, people end up with assertions that self-knowledge is a misleading idea full of difficulties and dangers (Stephanie, p.1).

Self-knowledge is not a disingenuous idea since it helps an individual to understand the person in him or her. Whenever people understand themselves, they are in a position to manage and take care of their personal lives. In so doing, it is easier to make life turn out for you instead of having life ensue for you.

Self-knowledge is not a mere social convention because it makes us comprehend our external physical universe over and above the inner metaphysical world surrounded by us. Moreover, through self-knowledge our mind turns out to be the interface for both experiences.

The idea of self-knowledge starts from the mind. In most cases, the manners in which we think dictate our lives and influence our human experience. Thus, by changing our perceptions about the surroundings, we can change our worldview on certain issues such as self-knowledge. Paradoxically, the moment we change our perceptions and think in the right way, the surrounding world adjusts as well.

Thus, we cannot define self-knowledge as a mere social convention yet through it, we are in a position to change the world. It is never difficult to change the world, and we are not involved in a dangerous process to change the world. Needed of us, is the ability to alter our thinking that produce our self-knowledge, and the world will automatically change (Amie, pp.2-4).

The fact that humanity lives in a participatory universe where people’s values, beliefs and thoughts influence what happens around them is a surety that self-knowledge is not a mere social convention and is never a misleading idea. Noticeably, the happenings in the physical world replicate the rich contents of our self-knowledge hence, building our own destiny. Thus, self-knowledge evades us from being casualties of circumstances, and instead makes us heirs of our destiny (Timothy and Dunn, pp.13-15).

In conclusion, I believe that self-knowledge is neither a misleading idea nor a social convention because it makes us to recognize our fault in thinking and helps us to alter it. In addition, self-knowledge helps us to enhance our spiritual, mental, physical and emotional faculties with an aim of defining our destiny.

Works Cited

Amie, Thomasson. Self-Awareness and Self-Knowledge. 2006. Web. 18 Nov. 2010.

Brie, Gertler. Self-Knowledge. 2008. Web. 18 Nov. 2010.

Justyna, Japola. Aquinas on Self-Knowledge. (n.d.). Web. 18 Nov. 2010.

Stephanie, Tolan. Self-Knowledge, Self-Esteem and the Gifted Adult. 2007. Web. 18 Nov. 2010.

Timothy, Wilson, Dunn, Elizabeth. Self-Knowledge: Its Limits, Value, and Potential for Improvement. 2004. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. <


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