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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

514 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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26 - 50 of 173 Reviews for Know Thyself - The Value and Limits of Self-Knowledge: The Examined Life

By Russell H

Sep 8, 2018

An exceptionally well made course. I'm a philosophy undergrad and this course was useful in that it added little nuggets of information to my overall understanding of Socrates/Plato, Descartes and Ryle's philosophy. Particularly Ryle. I would recommend this course to undergrads and people just looking for a general understanding of philosophical argumentation and the kinds of ideas your likely to encounter when studying philosophy at a higher level. Cheers Mitch.

P.s I also took your online MOOC when you were at University of Virginia a couple of years ago. That was the best MOOC I've ever done. I loved the informal settings and the way you presented the material. Keep up the good work Prof, it's very much appreciated.

By A. E H

Sep 16, 2019

Lovely course. It is the first time I complete a course in philosophy. It gave me an overall idea of the main paths of thinking that were there in the world to explain our existence and what a good life is. I was surprised to see that we are still struggling 'to get it' after all these thousands of years! Why is it so difficult for the average human to get to know her/himself? I am grateful for the 'go further' bit . there were really interesting readings and videos to go deeper. The one about the oracle of Delphi was great. I loved the meditation minutes, I will practise them from now on. Thank you for making it available for all. :)

By Fernando S

Jul 23, 2020

The course is very well-elaborated, with well-produced and interesting videos covering the topic of self-knowledge from a variety of philosophical sources. I especially liked the forum activities, which encourage students to reflect on the material presented and provide our own perspective of the ideas explored. There is also a wealth of additional material and references for those who want to explore these concepts further, allowing students to delve as deep into the subject as their interest will take them.

By molly w

Oct 30, 2020

I found this course engaging and I never felt that the content was in any way laborious or pointless. Each week there are several "quizzes" which pose prompts on debatable or interesting issues which arose in the previous lectures. I enjoyed reflecting on ideas I had learnt and felt challenged enough without being overwhelmed! The optional extra material is a lovely way to accommodate people who want to delve deeper into the topic! Highly recommend.

By Ruth M

Jan 13, 2022

This is a really thorough introduction to the philosophy around this topic. It is perfectly accessible for the complete novice like me, and I really enjoyed being challenged by the questions and material. The additional materials have been fascinating and I look forward to further exploring the subject independently. A fantastic course, excellent quality and content.

By Jennifer C

Feb 7, 2021

I enjoyed this course. It was easy to follow and the different levels allow learners to engage at a level suited to how much time they have to dedicate to this and how in-depth they want to go. Focus on the philosophy of what it is to know one's self and why it may be useful. The additional resources provided to go further into the topics were really interesting

By Adrian P T L

Oct 7, 2018

I've Learned a lot about this course. i learned that how should i put importance to myself that knowing some limitation and giving importance in what talents and abilities that i have. knowing myself is show to me that how am i special on this world that i stand. so that I concluded this course, we should love ourselves and accept who really we are.

By A K

Aug 24, 2018

One of the best resources available on the subject of Self Knowledge that is not only accessible, but with pointers for further study to go further & deeper. I had earlier viewed a few lectures when this course was given a couple of years ago, and was waiting for taking the course. It was well worth it! A BIG Thank you, Prof Mitchell Green!

By Belinda N

Jul 25, 2022

This course was a real eye-opener. I am really glad I got the opportunity to be part of this adventure. Thank you Prof Mitchell Green for sharing your knowledge and expertise with others. I am exited that it is definitely an investment you made in my life. Practice makes perfect and one of these days I will experience a new Me! :-)

By Seán Ó h

Dec 28, 2020

I found this Course to be really excellent. it provided ver clear, insightful and informative knowledge and information in helping me to examine, understand and reform so as to achieve a more fulfilling, rewarding and happier life. Thanks so much to everybody concerned with the Course's preparation and presentation. Wonderful!

By Suzanne

Sep 6, 2018

This course was very well presented: challenging concepts were delivered in a coherent and approachable manner, inviting further exploration and discussion. The meditative moments of "mono-tasking" were a bonus! Thanks and kudos to Mitchell Green and Simon Fokt for a really worthwhile learning experience.

By Atty. C S B

Mar 17, 2021

This early (I am currently finishing the course), I can say that so far, this is the best course I've enrolled in Coursera. Professor Mitchell Green is the best Philosophy teacher there is. This lectures are easily understood. I am now more interested to learn Philosophy because of Prof. Green.

By Ana R

Apr 12, 2021

Very well guided the issue through different authors and theories, good texts and resources as well. It was sort of intuitive to follow the course from week to week, I realize it's because it is 'well-crafted'.

Thank you for the meditative moment! (I'll never forget the bamboo meditation)

By Yogamitra

Sep 8, 2021

This is my first course on the coursera page that has brought me a lot of encouragement to think about my conception of life. It is very richly designed with a lot of information through historical philosophical views. Kudos to everyone who participated in the creation of this program.

By Regina V R

Apr 9, 2019

Great content, really enjoyed taking this course. The lectures are really good and the adicional material is very helpful. Also, I enjoyed a lot the meditative moments. However, the video "theory of human emotions" in week 4 is missing (instead there's the video for part 5 two times!)

By Aedrian A

Jan 19, 2021

This is an extremely insightful course, and it made the cited ancient philosophical texts much more accessible for casual philosophy learners like me. The unexamined life, truly, is not worth living - and I do think that this parallels with psychological essence of finding purpose.

By Neringa B

Sep 7, 2018

I have gained some useful insights thanks to the course material thus I recommend this course to those students who have already realised that there is a connection between their positive belief system and the negative events that unfold in their social/personal life.

By Carol A S

Nov 11, 2022

Excellent course. Really interesting but an awful lot in it! Well worth reading all the extra material in the Go Further section. Early Modern Texts is an amazing find and I'm now reading their versions of a number of works in my Kindle. Thank you.

By Jay L

Mar 28, 2021

A challenging class that helps us to dissect what it means to be a human being, to what degree we are influenced by our nature, other people and when we can use our rational mind to change our nature. Enlightening. Though I did not care fro Ryle.

By mary m

May 23, 2022

I loved this course. racing through subjects a bit (so much information) but once I tuned into the pace of our course leader's lectures, I really appreciated his insights and guidance, and gentle sense of humour. Must look out for more. thank you.

By Renee K

Jan 13, 2021

I enjoyed this short philosophy course and the content brought out in the lectures and presented readings was quite informative, which brings me to say that'd recommend this course to anyone interested in philosophy it will be worth your time.

By Helen J

Jan 17, 2021

Excellent course. The bite sized videos and lecturer were engaging. Simple explanations as well as the options and signposts to investigate the subject further was clearly laid out. The quizzes reinforced the learning for each module well.

By Munira M

Dec 2, 2020

Attending this course gives you an understanding of yourself with a different perspective, debates and views by different philosophers, which keeps you thinking a. This does not have a conclusion but open questions to be solved by ourself

By trees w

Feb 10, 2022

This is a course where you will do some reflective thinking and learn more about what philosophers through the ages have said and written. I liked the course for the introspection it spurred on. It was interesting and fun.

By Vanilson J P

May 14, 2020

I've started this course because of the lockdown in London, but I found the course to be really good. Lots of new theories to think about. The beginning if very simple but after while, needs dedication. Highly recommended.