Know Thyself: The Value and Limits of Self-Knowledge

1st Edition

Mitchell S. Green

Published November 30, 2017
Reference - 148 Pages - 2 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9781138676022 - CAT# Y231549

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Know Thyself: The Value and Limits of Self-Knowledge takes the reader on tour of the nature, value, and limits of self-knowledge. Mitchell S. Green calls on classical sources like Plato and Descartes, 20th-century thinkers like Freud, recent developments in neuroscience and experimental psychology, and even Buddhist philosophy to explore topics at the heart of who we are. The result is an unvarnished look at both the achievements and drawbacks of the many attempts to better know one’s own self.

Key topics in this volume include:

  • Knowledge – what it means to know, the link between wisdom and knowledge, and the value of living an "examined life"
  • Personal identity – questions of dualism (the idea that our mind is not only our brain), bodily continuity, and personhood
  • The unconscious — including the kind posited by psychoanalysis as well as the form proposed by recent research on the so-called adaptive unconscious
  • Free will – if we have it, and the recent arguments from neuroscience challenging it
  • Self-misleading – the ways we willfully deceive ourselves, and how this relates to empathy, peer disagreement, implicit bias, and intellectual humility
  • Experimental psychology – considerations on the automaticity of emotion and other cognitive processes, and how they shape us

This book is designed to be used in conjunction with the free ‘Know Thyself’ MOOC (massive open online course) created through collaboration of the University of Connecticut's Project on Humility and Conviction in Public Life, and the University of Edinburgh’s Eidyn research centre, and hosted on the Coursera platform ( The book is also suitable as a text for interdisciplinary courses in the philosophy of mind or self-knowledge, and is highly recommended for anyone looking for a short overview of this fascinating topic.


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