Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Drake Learns Epistemology – Lyle Hendriks

To introduce my midterm, a short demonstration of the evolution of epistemological self-knowledge:

γνῶθι σεαυτόν

Gnothi seauton

Know thyself

Know yourself (this is the best link)

Our midterm for Philosophy 12 asks us about knowledge – what it is, where we get it, and where we keep it. I aimed to look mostly at where it is kept, and how it is shown. I can’t exactly pinpoint where my epistemological proposition came from, but it has been stuck in my head for a few days, and I felt I needed to at least attempt to prove it.

Premise 1: Knowledge must be able to be demonstrated to be important.

Premise 2: Self-knowledge is the ability to evaluate personal responses to abstract/hypothetical events, future or present.

Premise 3: Evaluations and predictions can be demonstrated.

Premise 4: A knowledge of self is what indicates true, infallible knowledge.

Therefore: Self-knowledge is demonstrated by a congruence or relationship between hypothetical (future) responses and actual (present) ones.

(Credits to Mr. J for helping me figure this out)

This is pretty wordy and confuses me, too. To explain in a more language based way, we can show our knowledge (which is empirically acquired) by being able to predict our own actions. We have amassed a ‘self’ using our experiential and anecdotal knowledge. When faced with a hypothetical question, such as “What would you do if ‘x’?”, we show what we know about ourselves when we can provide an accurate prediction. The reason I believe we can know that self-knowledge is the nature of our true knowledge, is simply because we can never know anything as perfectly or as completely as we know and understand ourselves. Though we will come very close to understanding inanimate objects, living organisms, or other people to perfection, we will never know and feel what it is like to be that thing, and therefore our knowledge is still incomplete.

This relates to my metaphysics question, where I questioned whether human entities had destinies. This proposal of self-knowledge further affirms my belief that humans do not have a set destiny. I believe that accurate prediction is far more valuable and requires a greater critical insight than, say, an analysis of past actions. If a prediction is demonstrated and proven to be accurate, your knowledge of the self has been proven. We know ourselves above all else. If we can predict our own future with any accuracy based on our knowledge of our own nature, does that not disprove an external force controlling our actions fully?

Eric pointed out that if, for example, a person knows they are good in their heart of hearts, and yet everything they do is not good, are they truly a good person? I believe that a person is defined by their actions, but those actions can only define them by the flawed knowledge that others hold of the ‘good’ person. In the terms of interpersonal knowledge, this person is not good. However, this person is good when reflecting on their substantially more complete self-knowledge.

To sum up my opinions on this, my thirty second example was the most dense yet understandable version:

“Self knowledge, the most perfect and complete knowledge, is demonstrated by showing critical insight in an accurate self-prediction regarding a hypothetical scenario. This shows more self-knowledge than simply analysing and evaluating past events.”

In the end, the debate between future prediction and past analysis for being the best indicator of self-knowledge can never really be answered. Some feel more secure in being like Drake and knowing that they “were running in 6 with their woes”, or that “she used to call them on their cell phone”. I for one prefer the “future” based Drake, “Will I get it all right? Ain’t no tellin’.”


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