Wisdom is born by a marriage of theory and practice. Theory points the way; practice allows personal verification. Since practice requires a personal application of theory, wisdom is inseparable from self-knowledge. A man is deemed ‘wise’ who has made knowledge his own, which explains the central role of the ancient adage: ‘Know Thyself‘.
Although ‘Know Thyself’ is commonly attributed to Socrates and the Delphic oracle, the ancient wisdom of self-knowledge is, in fact, universal. Ancient Egypt, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam and more all acknowledge that man must first know himself before he can become master of himself and know the world around him.
Furthermore, ‘Know Thyself’ introduces the principle of relativity to the acquisition of knowledge. Rather than gathering volumes of information indifferently, the acquisition of knowledge must be measured by its relation to man, by its ability to instruct him about himself. Hence, all the ancient teachings placed self-knowledge at the center of their systems, around which all other ideas were like spokes.
Below are listed posts on expressions of Know Thyself in ancient wisdom:
A fox won't normally capture an eagle. But if the king of the birds stoops too low and foolishly endagers itself, the fox might have a go at it. Foxes are renowned for slyness, and an eagle that alights on its kill and gets overly fascinated with eating might become too distracted to detect an impen[...]