Who is this course for?
Anyone interested in starting the process of self-knowledge, developing wisdom, and discovering one’s authentic self. Read my self-knowledge document to get an idea of the questions and categories we’ll investigate together.
This course will help you:
- Develop greater self-awareness, clarity, and self-control
- Live an authentic, rich, and value-oriented life
- Make decisions aligned to your purpose and values
- Understand your strengths, weaknesses, productivity, ideal work environment, and motivation
- Discover aspects about yourself you never thought about or want to change and improve
- Accept yourself and love your uniqueness
- Build tolerance and understanding of others through empathy
- Recognize how your personality and behavior changes depending on the environment or situation
- Test your assumptions and open new avenues of possibility and experimentation
- Start a dialogue with other people to uncover your blind spots, reducing the gap between who you are and who you think you are
- Realize how little you still understand about yourself and how much there is to learn
These categories are merely starting points to explore different aspects of your identity. With time and dialogue, you will adapt them to match your own interests and circumstances.
The teacher will prepare a set of questions for students to reflect on during their free time. Each class, we’ll look at different aspects of your identity. Students also need to learn some ideas/concepts or answer questionnaires during non-contact hours. In class, we explore your answers more deeply through dialogue. The suggested course length is 3 months, with 2 sessions every week. For every class hour, students should spend an additional two hours answering questions and thinking about themselves. Students are welcome to write their thoughts down or keep a journal throughout the course and beyond.
The Importance of Dialogue
Dialogue is a multifaceted process that helps people explore their perceptions and assumptions. The back and forth communication adds subtle layers of meaning and understanding to existing knowledge and fosters awareness of issues that were previously hidden. Articulating and negotiating what we think helps organize our thought processes, thereby facilitating self-knowledge.
Unlike discussion or debate, dialogue is not concerned with reaching a goal or making a decision. Instead, it is a learning conversation whereby people explore ideas, listen nonjudgmentally, and build on each other’s meaning.
Ancient Greeks believed that self-knowledge was the highest form of knowledge. The phrase “Know Thyself” was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, Greece. A Greek philosopher, Thales of Miletus, once said that “The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.” When asked what the easiest thing in life, he responded with “to give advice.”
What is not self-knowledge?
Self-knowledge is not a result. Understanding the self will take an entire lifetime; it’s a continuous learning process. The goal is not certainty or security, but awareness and practicality. What use is it to understand yourself without using any of that knowledge to be a better version of yourself or to live a better life? The ultimate aim of any kind of knowledge is usefulness. Echoing the words of Aristotle, “Wisdom must be practical.”
Self-knowledge is not fixed. People change. Sometimes, these changes happen gradually. Other times, when we experience tumultuous periods in our lives, we change drastically.
Self-knowledge is not complete with introspection. The self doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You cannot know yourself without examining your behavior in a variety of environments or situations. How do you act in large groups? Small groups? With close friends? With family members? Do you know how other people see you? Does your self-image match their image of you? You need to start a dialogue with other people to uncover your blind spots. You need to understand what is unknown to yourself, but known to others. You need multiple points of view before you can draw a realistic picture of yourself.
Read what other people have said about the importance of self-knowledge:
- “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
- “Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” – Albert Einstein
- “We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” – Jane Austen
- “The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end—you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
- “Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” – Buddha
- “To know oneself, one should assert oneself. Psychology is action, not thinking about oneself.” – Albert Camus
- “A person cannot choose wisely for a life unless he [or she] dares to listen to himself [or herself], his [or her] own self, at each moment in life.” – Abraham Maslow
- “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” – Lao Tzu