Socrates: Know Yourself (meaning & explanation)

socrate philosopher

Know thyself: a moral epistemological and injunction

The philosophy of Socrates still shines today. Even the most distant philosophers of his principles have discussed and debated his philosophy and teaching (Nietzsche for example).

The phrase “Know thyself” has not been invented by Socrates. It is a motto inscribed on the frontispiece of the Temple of Delphi.

This assertion, imperative in the form, indicates that man must stand and live according to his nature. Man has to look at himself. To find what? By what means?

These two questions are fundamental.

  1. The what, at first. Indeed, this invitation to introspection must be connected to the Platonic theory of reminiscence. Everyone, says Socrates, has the knowledge itself, just remember them. Knowledge is inherent in man, not outside. Wisdom is learning to recollect.
  2. How, then. This knowledge of oneself can be achieved only through the Socratic method, that is to say, the dialogue between the soul and itself, or between a student and his teacher. Socrates is as often in the role of questioner, as an attendant emotional. Socrates questions because he knows nothing, knows he knows nothing and has nothing to learn, but it can help his followers to discover the truths they have in them.

Without this work on yourself, life is worthless according to Socrates:

The unexamined life not worth living

Philosophy does not mean, as in the sophists, the acquisition of knowledge but a way of questioning, to challenge, a form of self-concern.


Cite this article as: Tim, "Socrates: Know Yourself (meaning & explanation), March 24, 2022, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, March 24, 2022,

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