“Self-knowledge” is a self-explanatory term, which stands for the process of human cognition of oneself: one’s qualities, personal features, traits of character, strengths and weaknesses. The idea of isolating oneself from the outside world for the purpose of understanding of life is not new. This practice goes backing history to the philosophers as well as monks. Yet, why should a person cognize samething?
Modern psychologists consider self-knowledge to be one of the most important processes in life of an individual; the process which is an inalienable part of development. This process arises from the need(physical and spiritual), combined with personal motivation.
In ancient times people satisfied their desire for food, dwelling and communication by a variety of activities, such as fishing, hunting, gardening, construction work, practice of speech, cave painting, etc. Through these activities people experienced the world around them, and also learnt about each other.They explored the properties of different materials, examined the edibility and nutritious qualities of foods; learnt the means of speech production and of reflection on the surroundings.
The result of cognition is the knowledge that is obtained. There are countless ways of gaining it, from the conducting the simplest observations and extremely complicated science experiments. The outcomes of cognition can be used both for good and for bad causes. On the one hand, the knowledge enriches the internal world of the individual, gives him or her the inner feeling of self-confidence. There is a popular saying: “He who owns the information, owns the world.” On the other hand, the knowledge can also be applied for harming to the environment, and even for the extermination of humankind.
It is becoming generally not easy to distinguish the notions of “good” from the “bad” in the modern society. These categories are in opposition to one another. The good associates with morality, usefulness, fairness – in fact, with all the good characteristics that a person could have. The bad, on the contrary, is associated with harmfulness, lack of morality and cruelty. Aspiration for good is incorporated in people on the subconscious level. The feeling of spiritual satisfaction follows from every good did. Therefore, a person develops a number of positive features, such as honesty, respect, industriousness, diligence, generosity, continence, moderation, sincerity, and others.
How can one achieve a moral and good life? One of the conditions is self-knowledge. By realizing their personal features, traits of character and analyzing the “baggage” of knowledge that they posses, it is easier for people to be in control of their life and behavior. Self-knowledge is a conscious, multistage process undertaken by a morally mature person, which takes place as part of different types of activities, and leads the person to objective evaluation of their abilities, and improvement of their skills and attainments.
Someone who knows their own pros and cons, interacts with other people, buildshealthy relationships and create a family much easier. This person can analyze how others react to their certain words or traits of character, and this may serve as a strong motivation for getting rod of negative qualities and replacing them with the positive ones.
Moreover, self-knowledge can be embodies in the concentrated and painstaking examination of the Self by reflective thinking, psychological tests, trainings, and so on. Via self-kowledge, the individual is even able to find answers to such eternal questions as: “What is the sense of my life?”, “What am I striving to achieve?”, “How do I become successful”, etc. This helps him or her to grow, get some position in society, and reach certain personal achievements.
Many philosophers, thinkers and public activists have addressed the issue of self-knowledge. One of them was H. S. Skovoroda. His teaching focused on self-cognition as means for achieving absolute happiness. He wrote: “To be happy means to understand, find yourself”.
H. S. Skovoroda considered the mind to be very valuable; it is with the mind, he argued, that a person can understand their natural makings and skills. A person may become successful in a certain field by developing their abilities. Success is a positive afforcement for theadoption of moral norms. For example, upon the responsible and diligent completion of work, we receive a reward in the form of some material benefits, compliment, grades, etc. We fix positive impressions behind these virtues, and, in turn, this motivates us to keep using these virtues for obtaining benefits later.
Self-knowledge is a socially conditioned process, for it is hard to imagine a fully happy and socially helpful person without understanding of the self and one’s place in society. It is important to note that it is hard to understand another person without the understanding of your own Self. All our relationships, in which we shape and improve our moral, psychological and other personality aspects, are built on understanding, trust and respect.
Thus, the process of self-knowledge is a very important condition for a moral good, harmonious life, which all of us aim for. This can be achieved only when the person himself or herself realizes their goals, desires and abilities. We should compare our analysis of moral norms and rules with the internal resources of our personality. Consequently, we should define what would be an obstacle for harmonious relationships with other people; resolution of situatins related to moral choices; implementation of plans, which would benefit us and other people.