Inside knowledge: Why knowing thyself is the hardest thing

 作者:农系锕     |      日期:2019-03-01 10:06:04
Patrick Mac Sean/Getty By Anil Ananthaswamy WHO am I? The question resonates down to us from antiquity: the injunction “know thyself” was, according to the 2nd-century Greek traveller Pausanias, inscribed on the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. “It is a classical philosophical ideal,” says philosopher Thomas Metzinger of the University of Mainz, Germany. “We should expand our own knowledge about ourselves wherever and whenever we can.” But is it even possible to gain a true picture of our self that corresponds with reality? We are within ourselves, so any attempt to build a full picture is naturally fraught with our own cognitive biases and problems of self-reference (see “Knowledge: Why we’ll never know everything“). A big part of our self-perception is tied up with how others see us – yet we can never fully know the biases that cloud their perception. Philosophical investigations, plus scientific observations of human behaviour, have at least allowed us to delineate the question of what the self is a little more sharply. And it turns out there’s not one way of doing so, but several. First, there is the phenomenal self. This corresponds to our sense of existing, and that there is a distinct entity in our mind that experiences this existence. This self is very real to each of us: