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Self-Knowledge (PH9A9-20/30)

Most of us have heard of the ancient recommendation to ‘Know thyself’, but what would it be to know yourself, and why does it matter whether you know yourself? These are among the issues you will be exploring in this course, which should be of interest to both ‘analytic’ and ‘continental’ philosophers.

Programme content

Specifically, the course will be organized around 4 questions:

  • (1) What are the sources of self-knowledge for humans?
  • (2) What is the character of self-knowledge?
  • (3) What are the obstacles to self-knowledge?
  • (4) What is the value of self-knowledge?

Self-knowledge includes ‘substantial’ self-knowledge (e.g. knowledge of your own character or values or emotions) as well as the relatively ‘trivial’ self-knowledge which has been the focus of so much discussion in philosophy (e.g. knowing that you believe that it’s raining). You will examine different approaches to self-knowledge (rationalism, empiricism, inferentialism) and consider which of these approaches delivers the most convincing account of self-knowledge for humans, given all the respects in which humans beings are less than perfect epistemic citizens.

Topics covered

The following is a list of topics for this module in the 2014/15 academic year; precise seminar content may change from year to year.

  • The Philosophical Picture of Self-Knowledge
  • The Specialness of Self-Knowledge
  • Inferentialism and the Asymmetry
  • Substantial Self-Knowledge
  • Self-Ignorance
  • Knowing Why
  • Character and Self-Knowledge
  • The Value of Self-Knowledge
  • Love’s Knowledge
Timing and CATS

This module is running in term 1 and is worth either 20 or 30 CATS depending on your programme of study.