Thursday, January 13, 2011
Know Thyself is still valid advice!
This advice, attributable to a number of early Greek philosophers, including Socrates, is far easier to state than to achieve. What does it really mean, and how can one go about the task of knowing one's self in a rational manner?
This direction, and working towards its satisfaction, is essential to the development of a personal philosophy. I have been working on my version of how to achieve this knowledge for a while, without trying to state explicitly what my method for achieving it was.
A personal philosophy should cover each of the key problems that philosophy in general covers:
1) Knowledge and how it is obtained and verified,
2) Conduct of one's life,
3) Governance in one's life and culture to resolve any conflicts with other men who might have a wildly differing philosophy.
Now, I am readying a paper on this "how to" subject, which might be of interest to others. Stay tuned, I should be able to publish it in a few days.
Well, a few days is going to turn into a few months, or even more! The unknown unknowns got me! There are too many variables at the beginning, and too many prerequisites, for the range of people that might be interested. Such items as their current education, knowledge of philosophy and logic, religious affiliation, current self-knowledge, intelligence, and much more, affect the ideas I had for a common and practical methodology.
The one clear and surviving suggestion for the method I can state is that committing to writing down your own belief system or your philosophy of life in considerable detail is a task that will drive you in the direction I had intended. You will uncover gaps in your knowledge of both your external and internal world, which in turn will send you to research the literature, study and reflect on what you have learned to fill those gaps. It is a long, hard, discovery method that many people will give up on when the intellectual going gets tough.
After you have settled the main issues for your philosophy and have put them into writing, your job is still very incomplete. You discover many more subsidiary issues that simply must be solved in some sense. In fact, it is a lifetime work to do it real justice, though the preliminary edition of your philosophy will be a wonderful beginning to knowing thyself.