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Back to Know Thyself - The Value and Limits of Self-Knowledge: The Examined Life

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Know Thyself - The Value and Limits of Self-Knowledge: The Examined Life by The University of Edinburgh

519 ratings

About the Course

According to legend, inscribed on walls of the temple on the sacred site of Delphi in Ancient Greece were two premier injunctions: NOTHING IN EXCESS, and KNOW THYSELF. This course will be an examination of the latter injunction in an effort to discover what self-knowledge is, why it might be valuable, and what, if any, limitations it might face. What is missing from a person lacking in self-knowledge that makes her less wise, virtuous, or competent in certain areas than others who have this capacity, and what if anything might she do to fill that gap? Historical sources as well as recent research in philosophy, experimental social psychology, and neuroscience will inform our investigation, in the course of which we will become students of our own dreams, and cultivate some meditative practices. Learning Outcomes: Learners will gain familiarity with prominent themes from Western, classical Chinese, and Buddhist approaches to our knowledge of ourselves. In the course of doing so, they will gain an appreciation of the relation of self-knowledge to wisdom, of the value of intellectual humility, as well as of methods of learning about oneself that do not depend on introspection. Learners will also become familiar with contemporary research in experimental social psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience into the emotions, the unconscious, the role of affect in decision making, and self-deception. They will also gain an appreciation of a challenge to the assumption of a coherent, unified self that derives from the Buddhist tradition. --- This course was created by a partnership between The University of Edinburgh and Humility & Conviction and Public Life Project, an engaged research project based at the University of Connecticut and funded by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation....

Top reviews


Aug 17, 2022

This course was amazing! I loved the extracurricular activities (readings, assignments and the meditative moments) which helped to contextualise the material learned in an interdisciplinary context.


Jun 20, 2020

Really in depth and easy to follow information on a great array of topics, philosophers and philosophies. I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest of learning new knowledge .

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1 - 25 of 178 Reviews for Know Thyself - The Value and Limits of Self-Knowledge: The Examined Life

By Lynn H

Jun 25, 2020

The course itself was great. However, I'm very upset and angry because I could not take the quizzes and get graded on my work just because I'm not paying for a certificate. I enjoy getting graded on my work so I can monitor my progress, I don't care whether I get a certificate since I don't intend to use it for anything. I'm taking these classes for my own enjoyment and self-improvement and this has taken some of the fun out of it for me. I have never been unable to get a grade before and now I have two classes that are doing this and I am very disappointed!

By nudrat s

Jun 13, 2020

Its a wonderful course but the only thing i think it lacked was the actual connection to knowing thyself.It explores philosophical theories but nothing clinical psychological truths about knowing oneself better.

By Paul T

Sep 6, 2018

This has been a stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable course. Part 1 has been wide-ranging but with many opportunities/links to pursue topics in greater depth. The lectures have been pitched at just the right level - accessible, non-technical, yet rigorous and modelling the intellectual humility the course obviously wishes to promote.

The most striking feature of the course is how responsive the teaching staff have been to the contributions of students - thoughtful, respectful and helpful replies and comments on discussion threads and has any other MOC ever held a referendum and as a consequence changed a feature mid-course?

Two final suggestions on the assignment (sorry!): why not loosen the requirements still further and encourage any one to comment and discuss posted assignments, even if they have not had the time or confidence to write their own? Would it be possible for the course to be kept 'open', say, an extra week to give students the opportunity to continue discussion threads/ comment on assignments etc? Perhaps this could be done on the understanding that staff would not be available to respond during this 'extra' time..

Huge thanks. It has been great fun.

By Kasia

Jan 2, 2019

What I really liked was the fact that the professor/ assistant have answered personally the questions of the users. Nevertheless, I give only three stars because the content of the course has not been so interesting as I hoped for and it was focusing on the thoughts of only four philosophers. This is the course that I have the least material from. Thank you anyway!

By Daniel B

Jun 24, 2020

This is a well put together course. It is beneficial to borrow or purchase the course textbook. I enjoyed the course instructor and his use of meditation breaks every so often was great.

By Ayfer B

Aug 22, 2018

Let me first point out that the staff put a lot of work into this. This is much appreciated.

The course, though, isn't structured well. Definitions of terms are missing which makes communication and dicussions difficult.

It takes a long time to understand what the point of the video lecture is.

Threads are deleted which is highly questionable.

Staff tries to welcome every student, but then misses some, and those who weren't greeted feel left out.

By Mayralis D

Apr 23, 2021

Trying to unenroll From this class as I feel the curriculum content does not appropriately match the description of the class. However the site wont let me unenroll

By Sami T

Jun 21, 2020

Really in depth and easy to follow information on a great array of topics, philosophers and philosophies. I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest of learning new knowledge .

By Sisawad

Dec 2, 2019

If you're looking to gain wisdom, I would skip this course. I completed this course but I can't honestly tell you anything useful that I learned from it. The lecturer did an OK job at keeping me engaged.

By María d l L A

Sep 6, 2018

This course have been very beneficial to me, I must confess I have not enough formal education, and I feel the study of the philosophers Professor Green offered to us with this course, have not only contributed to a better understanding of the view I have of myself, but also a contribution to my own mental health. I thank all those collaborating to make this course possible and accessible to the public at large for this humanistic opportunity.

By Dezzy U

Jul 18, 2020

This my first ever course or class in philosophy, so I spent more time than usual trying to make sense or was it, to read more in depth. That took me a little longer than the time allotted. I enjoyed week 1 and week 4, but was a bit lost in week 2 and week 3. Overall I am grateful for having made the effort and added something new to my life. I dont know if the class could have been made a little more interesting? or is this philosophy in general?

By James A H

Sep 6, 2018

This course has helped me to reflect on what wisdom is, what I can know about myself from introspection, what I can know about others by observation, what human nature is and how to formulate and express my own opinions. It is well thought out, the materials are good and there are many links to go further. It has exceeded my expectations. Brilliant!

By Meri M

Sep 23, 2020

Philosophy is a Jew subject for me and I struggled to wrap my head around the way questions were asked. I did a lot of outside research and study to further understand course work. I appreciated the class Though!

By Sanika S

Aug 31, 2019

A very interesting and illuminating course that provided exposure to diverse theories about the 'self'. However I wish this course had provided more scope and means for self-introspection and formulating new theories instead of just learning about existing ones. It would also have been nice to hear from different instructors instead of the entire course being conducted by a single instructor. Nevertheless an overall satisfactory course and I thank the instructor and the creators of this course for creating this course.

By Luz A L O

Aug 8, 2020

No me llamo mucho la atención porque me pareció muy teórico.

By Kat

Sep 7, 2018

Hello Mitch,

Thank you very much for the course; I really enjoyed it.

If there was one thing I would change, it might be the way the optional final assessment was run. When people started worrying about peer reviews, I thought it was a considerate gesture that you moved the assessment to a forum to put everyone's mind at rest. However, after that, my impression was that something may have gone wrong somewhere: as I had already submitted my essay before all this and was receiving peer reviews, I then decided to peer review some other students' essays too (despite the move to the forum). The essays I was finding were all very short. It may have been that the software cut them off for some reason - or maybe people were confused about where they were submitting, and thought they were posting a forum entry (for which the length would have been appropriate).

I would love to come back for parts 2 and 3. If I don't, it will only be because by the time they are live, my "real" programme will have started and I may not have time for both. If I do have time for both, I will definitely be back.

Thank you very much again and best wishes


By Kathryn B

Aug 3, 2021

I loved this course, for its clarity of presentation, different levels of engagement, and thought-provoking questions. Professor Green provided an balanced, basic discussion of several important topics: what is self-knowledge to Socrates? Descartes? Ryle? Freud? How does knowledge change when we think about the mind-body? Is knowledge empirical or a priori? And what about human nature, as a source (and excuse) for some types of knowledge (or behavior)? A worthy addition to my study of philosophy.


May 6, 2019

An excellent course encompassing theory, story, learning and tools from many historical and contemporary sources. Really well explained, flowing smoothly and yet provocative in helping you think about the topics yourself. The meditative videos are very useful too. Worthy of 5 stars.

By J-Man

Dec 6, 2018

The course was well laid out, well explained, the videos and animations helped visually and the added extras such as questioning events in your own life and the meditative moment really made for an engaging learning experience.

By Seren R

Sep 6, 2018

I have really enjoyed this course, and learned a lot. The materials are accessible and well produced. Having a written text along with the lectures helps to cement the knowledge acquired. There is a good variety of further learning options, so for issues that were really interesting or new to me I was able to access materials that went deeper (for example, on Mencius and 2 other Chinese philosophers who I had never read or learned anything about before).

The discussion boards provide a great place for participating in discussions, and Prof Green provides a good variety of discussion prompts to make it interesting.

The course is well created to allow participants to engage more or less intensely. I had one week during the course when I was unable to do any of the optional extras, but the lectures gave enough of an overview to allow me to still learn something. The weeks that I was able to engage more and go further, there was plenty of depth to explore.

By harley m

Sep 6, 2018

Very good course and I thought the presentation and presenter were excellent. It seemed to start off on the basis that those attending had virtually no knowledge of philosophy, so was a little slow in the beginning for me but it picked up nicely. I have now done a number of these courses provided by University of Edinburgh and have always found them excellent. I really look forward to the next one. Thank you.

By Lynn-Marie H

Feb 19, 2019

Really interesting and well presented course. Even if there is only time available to take the basic level there are materials available to engage and go further into the subject as laid out. I didn't have that time but still explored. It filled in gaps for me and made me think. The tutor is very easy to listen to and if I do the next course I'll look at his book too.

By J e

Sep 5, 2018

It is a very interesting course. I am very curious about the two upcoming course in this series. Questioning the self is probably not for everyone. It is not a courses that is taken for just a credit it is an experience for those of us with a sense of wonder and an inquiring spirit.

Thank You

By A. J

Jun 24, 2020

Fascinating examination of multiple philosophical ideas. It is neat that the instructors allow the students to decide how far to delve into the topics, as they provide opportunities to interact with peers and due further reading and exploring. It is a work-at-your-own pace course.

By Fred S

May 24, 2021

My goal in taking these courses is to educate myself in Philosophy. This course seems to concentrate more on Psychology, although that, perhaps has become the emphasis of modern Philosophy.