International Studies in Philosophy Monograph Series


The Gift of Self

Stephen David Ross
Pages 23-46

Self Knowledge

When one is asked "What is the most important moral principle in ancient philosophy?" the immediate answer is not "Take care of oneself" but the Delphic principle gnōthi sauton ("Know thyself"). (Foucault, TS, 19) I can't as yet "know myself," as the inscription at Delphi enjoins, and so long as that ignorance remains it seems to me ridiculous to inquire into extraneous matters. (Plato, Phaedrus, 230a) I certainly do not yet know myself, but whithersoever the wind, as it were, of the argument blows, there lies our course. (Plato, Republic, 394d)