Quotations about   self-knowledge

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The man who don’t kno himself iz a poor judge ov the other phellow.

[The man who doesn’t know himself is a poor judge of the other fellow.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Plum Pits” (1874)
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Added on 21-Dec-21 | Last updated 21-Dec-21
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Sport strips away personality, letting the white bone of character shine through. Sport gives players an opportunity to know and test themselves.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Sudden Death (1983)
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Added on 6-Aug-21 | Last updated 6-Aug-21
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“Those who fought know a secret about themselves, and it is not very nice.” They have experienced secretly and privately their natural human impulse toward sadism and brutality. […] Not merely did I learn to kill with a noose of piano wire put around somebody’s neck from behind, but I learned to enjoy the prospect of killing that way. It’s those things that you learn about yourself that you never forget. You learn that you have much wider dimensions than you had imagined before you had to fight a war. That’s salutary. It’s well to know exactly who you are so you can conduct the rest of your life properly.

Paul Fussell (1924-2012) American cultural and literary historian, author, academic
“The Initial Shock,” Interview by Sheldon Hackney, Humanities (Nov/Dec 1996)
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Added on 23-Jun-21 | Last updated 23-Jun-21
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It is a sad fate for a man to die
Too well known to everybody else,
And still unknown to himself.

[Illi mors gravis incubate
Qui notus nimis omnibus
Ignotus moritur sibi.]

Seneca - still unknown to himself - wist_info quote

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Thyestes, ll. 401-403 [tr. Bacon]


Lines from the Chorus translated by Francis Bacon, in "Of Great Place," Essays, Part 11. Sometimes incorrectly attributed to Bacon.
 
Added on 20-May-16 | Last updated 20-May-16
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Self-knowledge is the beginning of self-improvement.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 69 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
 
Added on 4-Dec-13 | Last updated 4-Apr-22
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No Man is the worse for knowing the worst of himself.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #3601 (1732)
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Added on 20-Nov-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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Know the enemy, know yourself; in a hundred battles you will not be in peril.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, “Offensive Strategy” (31) [tr. S. Griffith (1963)]


Alt trans:
  • "It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle." [cited  ch. 3, last sentence.]
  • "If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."
  • "Know your enemy and know yourself, find naught in fear for 100 battles. Know yourself but not your enemy, find level of loss and victory. Know thy enemy but not yourself, wallow in defeat every time."
  • "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."
  • Literal translation: "Know [the] other, know [the] self, hundred battles without danger; not knowing [the] other but know [the] self, one win one loss; not knowing [the] other, not knowing [the] self, every battle must [be] lost."
 
Added on 10-Apr-09 | Last updated 16-Jan-20
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