Man, Know Thyself


Over the years, man has always wanted to discover and unravel certain phenomenons. These range from different perspectives and orientations, factors that affect our worldview and the way we unravel, discover. Man, know thyself is an aphorism attributed to Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher. However, there is dispute between some philosophers over this. A certain faction of philosophers believes that Socrates was the master mind of this aphorism. Either way, the aphorism is a product of the Greeks.

Man know thyself, this aphorism can serve as a thought system that would proffer answers to inadequacies about man, also it would eradicate ills and vices in the society. It is saddening that we take little or no cognizance of this aphorism. Man, know thyself is indeed a concept that can satisfy our quest for things we clamour for. Knowing ourselves goes beyond the awareness of our gender.

For example:

Ibrahim is a guy.

Every guy is a man.

Therefore Ibrahim is a man.

This kind of knowledge is apt, but not adequate enough for our well being, although it basically makes sense. The act of knowing encompasses a lot of concepts, if these concepts are not present in one’s life, it can be meaningfully concluded that the level of full consciousness has not been attained. These concepts are

  • Purpose
  • Responsibilities
  • Life skills
  • Knowledge about the environment
  • Rationality

The concepts mentioned above are just few out of numerous concepts that aids man’s understanding about himself. Man can know himself to a large extent, however having knowledge is not enough for a sane being, the application of knowledge accumulated through various reasoning , learning and experience constitutes to the sanity of the human mind. For the sake of depth understanding, it would be helpful to have a grasp of what knowledge is, that is;

  • What is knowledge ?
  • What constitutes to knowledge ?
  • Does knowledge have limitations ?
  • Is knowledge just an illusion of life ?

In essence, treating the anatomy of knowledge is of dire importance.

What is knowledge?

Merriam Webster defines knowledge as an information, understanding or skill that you get from experience or education. It is also the awareness of something, or state of being aware of something.

This definition shows that knowledge comes from the state of awareness. If this is so, then Rene Descartes is right to some extent in his philosophical thought. In the quest of knowing, Rene Descartes came up with the aphorism “Corgito ergo sum” – “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes points out to the essence of awareness, and he believes that it can only be achieved through the power of reasoning. Rene Descartes is a rationalist, the rationalists are a set of people that believes that genuine knowledge can only be acquired through reasoning.

On the contrary, another philosopher called George Berkeley gave a different approach to knowledge. To him, he believes genuine knowledge can be attained through perception. He made this known to us through his aphorism ” esst esse percipi “ – “- “to be is to be perceived.”

George Berkeley on the other hand believes solely that true knowledge comes through the application of the senses ,the process is perception,which includes doubting, will thinking.

In essence using the five (5) sensory organs in the quest of attaining knowledge. He believes that the state of awareness can be attained through perception of objects , phenomenons around us. Either way, what is of importance is to get informed about things surrounding us. Philosophers believes both are helpful in the quest of knowledge and fulfillment.

What constitutes to knowledge?

It is important to note that knowledge is an accumulation of observable facts, figures and concepts. Also, knowledge is the presentation of things that exists in the world of ideas and mind. In the creation of knowledge, there are various forces surrounding it, that is, several beings are responsible for genuine knowledge. The forces are categorised under two major philosophical thinking or concepts , they are

1 Empiricism

2 Rationalism

Empiricism is the school of thought that believes that knowledge can only be learned through experience, sensation and observation.

This school of thought solely believes that genuine knowledge must be verifiable and subjected into observable facts and analysis. This school is championed by the British, they are always known as British Empiricists. Major empiricists are John Locke, George Berkeley and David Hume.

This school of thought came into existence in the year 1632 AD and it also believes that the mind at its earliest stage is an empty slate . The mind gets use to basic learning, information, awareness as it develops, therefore knowledge is attainable through accumulation of observable facts and concepts. The agents of socialization are understandable examples of this, socialization is not new to anyone, we all passed through it. Knowledge are attached to the following agents of socialization

  • Family
  • School
  • Religious beliefs
  • Peer groups
  • Associations / Fraternities
  • Mass media
  • Institutions
  • Internet

These agents of socialization imbibes various knowledge to the mind at one point of life. The knowledge produced from these agents or forces sharpens , patterns the mind to a large extent. However, some of the agents have lapses and abuse on their part.


This is a philosophical thinking or concept that believes that all genuine knowledge comes from the power of reasoning. They believe so much in the power of reasoning, also they believe that reality is entwined with numbers and logical inferences. Anything outside the confines of reasoning would not be regarded as knowledge by them . Philosophers in this school of thought include Rene Descartes, Benedict Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz. They all contributed immensely to the development of rationalism in early modern period.

Does knowledge has limitations?

It is a popular notion amongst the philosophers , that they all seek to know the real existing thing. For ages, it has become apparent that philosophy is occupied with the problem of the real cause. Various research has been carried out over this. It all started with the ancestors of philosophy, they are the popular three (3) Milesians, namely

  1. Thales
  2. Anaximander
  3. Anaximines

These fellows were occupied with the real substance or entity that contributes to the whole essence of reality. This attempt has labelled philosophy as a field that does not believes in the existence of God.

No , this should not be so in fact it is a sheer ignorance to accept this claim. In the quest to know the real existing thing, various fields came up in the process. For example , Astronomy, physics, mathematics, psychology and in general the natural sciences.

Questions and not answers create knowledge, if we continue to roam on past glories and fail to occupy ourselves with questions, trust me, the end is near.Few challenges faced by men are insensitivity, laziness and materialistic illusions . We have made comfortability a pillow and negligence of responsibilities to the blanket, thus we sleep on the bed of painless ignorance.

It is so saddening that most people do not pay attention to things that matter. We continue to wallow and grumble under the dogmatic view ( E go better one day) trust me, this will not work.

The only way out is to see beyond our lenses and broaden our intelligence. With this creativity, we will pave way for development.

The question, does knowledge have limitations would not be directly answered by me, it is relative because human efforts differs in strength and quality. With efforts, new ideas are born, with this I think knowledge has no limitations. However, it should be noted that true and genuine lies with God, the eternal, the everlasting, the Alpha and omega, the wise, the nourisher. To him belongs all knowledge and understanding and other components, living and non living. God is not an unjust being, he cherishes efforts and knowledge.

On a final note, near or far, seen or not, aware or not I use this article to serve as a dualistic approach to solutions for present, future and past solutions. This can be seen from the perspective of knowing ourselves and contributing to the development in all ramifications. We can not give out what we do not have, use your potentials to develop the potentials of the nation, and it shall develop you exceedingly in turn. Live and let live.

Man, know thyself an atomic panacea to all problems, at this point, i would love to land with the popular saying in Yoruba ” Ji MA Sun ” Stay awake , come online.

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