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To know oneself - Essay Example

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To know oneself

The “know thyself” phrase by Socrates is engraved in the entrance of the Apollo temple at Delphi in order to illustrate the importance of knowing one’s self (qtd. in Hergenhahn 44-45). Socrates believes that the essence of something is necessary in order to understand an individual’s self. Essence for Socrates is a definition or a concept that is universally accepted and acknowledged. In relation to this, Rene Descartes believes that a person exist because he or she is thinking (qtd. in E. Paul, Miller, and J. Paul 76-79). Therefore, the ability for a person to think is the greatest manifestation of self and existence. Descartes strongly believes that the only manifestation of the self is the capacity to think. The universe that he believes in may be just a creative hallucination, but the fact that he thinks of hallucinating is a proof of his self and existence. Self, the ability to think, is not relatively related to the parts of a person’s body. Descartes believes that self, so long as the brain functions, is present even without legs. Therefore, Descartes's argument can be put into simpler sense that a self, which is considered as the personal identity, is the same mind and body. This argument is the same with John Locke; he considers that consciousness, which is the ability to sense and perceive, is the ability of a person to think. He also suggests that no matter what type of body a person has, his or her self will always be the same all throughout his or her existence. The identity will always be the same no matter he or she changes a body. In this manner, a person’s understanding is formed through thinking. As latter stated, self exists because a person thinks, and when this happens, he or she perceives and is able to use his or her senses. Therefore, if a person thinks that he or she exists, then he or she is conscious and can understand. In the light of understanding, David Hume (qtd. in Traiger) and John Locke assume that it is consistent from the past to the present. Understanding through the person’s sense and perception is constant similar to one’s self. Immanuel Kant (qtd. in Kitcher) suggests that a person is rational and free if he or she is conscious of his or her self. This consciousness will allow an individual to identify the presence of things in the universe. A person can trust what he or she knows because he or she can identify the objects presented to him or her. The presence of self also opens the door of a person to be fully aware of the presence of things or the knowledge surrounds him or her. Therefore, self manifest knowledge and the presence of knowledge manifest the consistency of things that are known. It can then be inferred that the universal knowledge, truth, or facts that a person know can be trusted to be the universal knowledge, truth, or facts for others. Therefore, knowing and trusting one’s self and knowledge encompass the person’s ability to have a constant self. In summation, according to Descartes, a person’s essence is his or her ability to think. As the argument goes back to Socrates, knowing a person’s self is the ability to know the essence of him or her. Therefore, it can be concluded that once a person thinks, self is present. As a person thinks, the act of sensing his or her surrounding and the act of perceiving are also done. Thinking is simultaneous to the latter acts, which will bear knowledge to the self. For this reason, the knowledge ...Show more

Summary

The Essence of Self Socrates was famous for his statement which is “know thyself” (Hergenhahn 44). With the phrase on hand, the question now refers on the manner of understanding the parameters of self. There have been a lot of philosophical discussions on the true meaning of self…
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