Sunday, December 13, 2020

Know thyself

Of the many things spoken about me, two quotes appear time and time again. The first, 'the unexamined life is not worth living', was part of my defense during my infamous trial. The second, 'know thyself', was important to me, but did not originate in my mind. Rather, it was an inscription near the entrance of the Temple of Delphi. Regardless of its origin, I offered it as advice to many of my friends.

If you wish to progress in your moral or intellectual life, you must know who you are. This knowledge provides a starting point for learning. Some people pretend to be something they are not, and in doing so they fail to recognize areas in which they may develop. Is it not true that if I think I am morally perfect, I am unlikely to seek improvement? Or, if I think I have great knowledge, I might not be open to new ideas? Or, if I think I am supremely talented, I may stop practicing my craft? Knowing who I am keeps me grounded and helps me become a better person.

So, if you truly wish to be the best person you can be, start by figuring out who you are. Look inward. Examine your life. Know thyself.

-- Socrates