Knowing yourself has extraordinary prestige in our culture. It has been framed as quite literally the meaning of life.
This sounds, when one hears it, highly plausible, yet so plausible it’s worth pausing to ask a few more questions. Just why is self-knowledge such a prestigious good? What are the dangers that come with a lack of self-knowledge? And what do we in fact need to know about ourselves? How do we come to learn such things? And why is self-knowledge difficult to attain?
When we speak about self-knowledge, we’re alluding to a particular kind of knowledge – generally of an emotional or psychological kind.
ONE: WHY AND WHERE DOES SELF-KNOWLEDGE MATTER?
Living with others
Spending money unwisely
TWO: WHY IS SELF-KNOWLEDGE SO HARD TO COME BY?
1: The Unconscious
2: The Emotional and the Rational Mind (reptilian, limbic & neocortex)
3: Freudian Resistance
4: Other people won’t tell us
5: We haven’t lived enough
6: We are fatefully vague about stuff
7: Introspection is low on prestige and unfamiliar
THREE: HOW TO GET MORE SELF-KNOWLEDGE – AND IN WHAT AREAS
i: Repetition Compulsion
3.2 Confrontation and criticism
i: Confrontation Styles (Passive, Aggressive, Passive-aggressive & Assertive)
i: Vagueness around one’s ambitions
ii: Attitudes to ambition
iii: The meaning of your life
FOUR: WHAT OTHERS CAN KNOW OF US (AT ONCE)
The gap between self-perception and the point of view of others…
FIVE: FAMILY DYNAMICS
i: Overall Picture: How you feel about your family
ii: Blame and self-knowledge
SIX: TASTE AND YOUR IDEA OF HAPPINESS
Aesthetic preferences can yield revealing insights. Personal taste reflects other things about us.
We use visual decoration styles to correct/rebalance ourselves.
SEVEN: WISDOM AND THE SEARCH FOR MOMENTS OF HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS
1: Fostering a capacity to observe one’s cruder impulses
2: Developing a capacity to interpret the behaviour of others, rather than merely react to it automatically
3: Developing a capacity for universal love
4: Developing a suspicion about your own feelings
Philosophical Meditation: ordering our minds rather than emptying them
The Art of Conversation: how can one improve and speed up self-knowledge
What does the wise person end up knowing about themselves?