PHIL 2410: Know Thyself

Here are two platitudes about self-knowledge. First: it is easier to know things about yourself than to know things about others. If I want to learn about your likes and dislikes, your beliefs and commitments, your skills and shortcomings, then I might need to do some investigative work. If I want to learn about my own likes, beliefs, and commitments – well, it seems like that’s the kind of thing that I would just know! Second: knowing yourself is distinctively valuable. As we have learned from the self-help industry, it is important to ‘get to know the real you’, to try and ‘find yourself’, to undertake journeys of ‘personal discovery’. In this course, our aim will be to investigate both these platitudes. We will ask what self-knowledge is, how we get it, and why it matters. We will also consider the tension between these platitudes – since, on reflection, we might well wonder why self-knowledge would take on such importance if it really was so easy to come across. A significant portion of the course will therefore be spent looking at the personal and societal barriers to self-knowledge. Our approach to these questions will be mainly philosophical, but we will likely also draw upon resources from sociology and psychology.

Trouble registering? This class has a catalog-level pre-requisite of PHIL 1101/1102/1103/1104/1105/1106/1107. We can override this pre-requisite. If you are an Honors student, you may register by emailing and including (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) your registration “pick time”; (4) the course number and section (PHIL 2410-001); (5) the class number from Student Admin; and (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.