Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Know thyself

""Know thyself," said, the old philosophy. "Improve thyself," saith the new. Our great object in time is not to waste our passions and gifts on the things external that we must leave behind, but that we cultivate within us all that we carry into the eternal progress beyond." -

"Strive to know thyself, the most difficult thing to know that can be imagined." - Miguel de Cervantes, fully Miguel de Cervantes Saaversa

""Know thyself" means: devote time each day to studying yourself... ferreting out your weakness, working at self-improvement, purifying your immortal soul." - Israel Salanter Lipkin

"The height of all philosophy is to know thyself; and the end of this knowledge is to know God. Know thyself, that thou mayest know God; and know God, that thou mayest love him and be like him. In the one thou art initiated into wisdom; and in the other perfected in it." - Francis Quarles

""Know thyself," said the old philosopher, "improve thyself," saith the new. Our great object in time is not to waste our passions and gifts on the things external that we must leave behind, but that we cultivate within us all that we can carry into the eternal progress beyond." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"In ancient days the most celebrated precept was, “Know thyself;” in modern times it has been supplanted by the more fashionable maxim, “Know thy neighbor, and everything about him.”" -

"Man, know thyself; all wisdom centres there." -

"Learn to know thyself and adapt to thyself." - Aeschylus NULL

"Learn to know thyself and adapt to thyself." -

"Know thyself! A maxim as pernicious as it is ugly. Whoever observes himself arrests his own development. A caterpillar who wanted to know itself well would never become a butterfly." - André Gide, fully André Paul Guillaume Gide

"Transparent Man, who is seen and seen through, foolish, who has nothing left to hide, who has become transparent through self-acceptance; his soul is loved, wholly revealed, wholly existential; he is just what he is, freed from paranoid concealment, from the knowledge of his secrets and his secret knowledge; his transparency serves as a prism for the world and the not-world. For it is impossible reflectively to know thyself; only the last reflection of an obituary may tell the truth, and only God knows our real names." - James Hillman

"Do thine own work, and know thyself." - Plato NULL

"Two of the inscriptions at Delphi are indispensable to living: "Know thyself" and "Avoid extremes," for on these two hang all the rest." - Plutarch, named Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus after becoming Roman citizen NULL

"Know thyself." - Socrates NULL

"Our works are the mirror wherein the spirit first sees its natural lineaments. Hence, too, the folly of that impossible precept, Know thyself; till it be translated into this partially possible one, Know what thou canst work at." - Thomas Carlyle

"The significance of that 'absolute commandment', know thyself — whether we look at it in itself or under the historical circumstances of its first utterance — is not to promote mere self-knowledge in respect of the particular capacities, character, propensities, and foibles of the single self. The knowledge it commands means that of man's genuine reality — of what is essentially and ultimately true and real — of spirit as the true and essential being." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"Many hands make light work." - Egyptian Proverbs