Do You Really Know Yourself? Throughout time great philosophers have pondered the question of what knowing your self is. Philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Alcibiades have somewhat of a similarity when it comes to identifying one’s self. However, there are the differences that lead up to the explanation and what individuals believe the self is. Socrates focused on the ‘good life’ and stresses the fact that to know how to live we need to know who we are. Under Socrates, the founder of philosophy, is the student Plato. He adapted many of Socrates’s ideas, but interpreted them differently.
He says, “And I thought that I had better have recourse to the world of mind and seek there the truth of existence” (Phaedo). Alcibiades elaborates with what life is, and how to achieve a full life. He believes that you cannot be the only one to tell yourself who you are, but by the opinions and knowledge of others you can ultimately know yourself, which was argued by Socrates later on. There are multiple aspects that could make up the self. To establish what makes you who you are, we must know what the self is: mind, body, soul, or a combination of them all. I feel that all of those make up the self.
Nonetheless, it can be harmful if you know yourself too well. Your mind gives you thoughts, the soul, has a moral foundation, and the body performs tasks. All parts of us are needed to shape who we are. Before one can figure out who they are, there must be a common identity known. But how one identifies themselves depends on who they want to be. People have souls; a soul that is just theirs and unlike no one else. From that soul, comes personality, feelings, morals, and actions. Easily said, a person’s identity is who they are and what they do play a role in a persons identity.
As mentioned earlier Socrates stresses the fact that if we want to live the ‘good life’ then we should know who we are. In Phaedo, Plato mentions how Socrates escapes being killed and in return he “answers that he is going to other gods who are wise and good, and perhaps to better friends; and he professes that he is ready to defend himself against the charge of Cebes” (Phaedo). Socrates knew himself and he knew that the gods were wise and good to him which is why he would have rather been released to them instead.
Whether individuals know themselves enough to make conscious decisions or not they should still realize when they are in a difficult situation and know when to remove themselves from it. Knowing yourself and how you should react in a situation like that is most likely the case when it comes to self-knowledge. However, in some instances it comes differently to people with to how to react in specific circumstances, not everyone is the same and how or when they react to something may come at any time.
Socrates during a conversation “is desirous of explaining how opposite ideas may appear to co-exist but do not really co-exist in the same thing or person” (line 66-67). Not everyone is the same, we all have different personalities that make us different from each other, which is exactly what Socrates is trying to say when he says they co-exist but do not at the same time. People are born who they are and that’s how they are defined. The way I am defines the way I act about things and does not make anyone else whom they are. I am my own person. There are reasons as to why I am who I am and that is also the case for other individuals as well.
Part of success and growth in life has to do with knowing what makes someone who they are. People can identify themselves by self- examination, experiences, preferences, or surroundings. As Socrates says to Alcibiades, “practice yourself, sweet friend, in learning what you ought to know, before you enter on politics; and then you will have an antidotes which will keep you out of harms way” (Alcibiades). Socrates was simply warning Alcibiades to fully know his standings before getting involved with those who do not truly care for him; which are those in politics. Forming opinions gives one the ability to learn about themselves a little better.
Wanting to think of yourself highly can mislead the conclusion as to who someone really is. However, you cannot use people who do not care to help identify yourself, simply because they do not care. Your soul is the core of who you are and in fact effects how you live and act. The mind, gives ideas, makes decisions, and provides emotions. The body is the cavity that contains all the major assets of who someone is. My soul holds my moral standings and beliefs of what right and wrong. My mind is what makes the conscious decision to do what I believe, and therefore, my body is what performs the right or wrong task.
Now, just because at this point in time you may know yourself, does not mean that that will always be the case. People as individuals are always changing; whether it is from experiences or from change in believes. People are changing, simple as that, they change as they change their minds. Plato expresses that people change for the reason that they do not know their own thoughts clearly. “He must know himself; that is to say, not his body, or the things of the body, but his mind or truer self” (Alcibiades). It is not too far reaching that people cannot see that.
Someone can have an event in their life that causes them to think differently, or not at all. Someone can have an event in their life that causes them to think differently, or not at all. Either way when a person changes it is still important to keep track of who you may be at that point in time. Even keeping track of yourself is important, part of that importance is not overthinking who you are. Part of the danger involved with figuring out who you are as an individual, is that you gain too much self-knowledge. Self-knowledge can bring about arrogance and self-destruction.
Easily, being self-important and arrogant will allow someone to come across as obsessive or self-absorbed. But thinking too much of yourself is not the only issue prevalent when talking about yourself. There are two extreme ends of the spectrum; one being full of yourself and the other thinking ultimately too little of ones self. Both ends influence confidence, knowledge, and open-mindedness. Having that type of handicap weighing over vital actions and decisions in life not only will take a toll on the individual at hand, but also, those that are a part of that individuals life.
Knowing yourself and your purpose comes into question more than one would think. It is not always easy to pinpoint who you are or who you want to be. Philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Alcibiades have somewhat of a resemblance when it comes to identifying someone or themselves they help to aid us in our journey of self-examination. They all focus on different aspects of their stories and it is seen while being read what they find important. The ‘good life’ is what draws Socrates attention and he also mentions the fact that to know how to live we need to know who we are.
Plato who is the founder of philosophy and under Socrates alters his thinking to be able to think like Socrates but interprets them on paper differently. Lastly Alcibiades discusses what life is and what you can do in order to live it to the fullest. The way you know yourself is special for everyone. Not one person is the same we all have different minds, bodies, and souls, which allow us to act the way we do. No matter what someone believes is the self; there is still a domino effect of the soul, to the mind, and then to the body.
Without having a clear site of what the self is, then it would be nearly impossible to configure who we are and why. Good philosophers tend to notice the ways of life and how everyone is different and apply it to life. Part of knowing yourself is using that knowledge in a positive manner and accomplishing that is what will give individuals fulfillment, simply because other will not truly know you if you do not know yourself first.
Works Cited Plato, and Benjamin Jowett. “ALCIBIADES I. ” September 27, 2012. Web. Plato, and Benjamin Jowett. “PHAEDO. ” September 27, 2012. Web.