Knowing Yourself and Being Worth Knowing

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Philosophers have often understood self-knowledge's value in instrumentalist terms. Self-knowledge may be valuable as a means to moral self-improvement and self-satisfaction, while its absence can lead to viciousness and frustration. These explanations, while compelling, do not fully explain the value that many of us place in self-knowledge. Rather, we have a tendency to treat self-knowledge as its own end. In this article, I vindicate this tendency by identifying a moral reason that we have to value and seek self-knowledge that is independent of the reason that we have to value the beneficial ends that it helps us achieve. I argue that we are in an inescapable relationship with ourselves that requires both self-love and self-respect. Self-love gives us a noninstrumental reason to know ourselves, while self-respect demands that we take this reason seriously. To pursue a project of self-discovery carefully and for its own sake, then, is part of what it is to stand in a loving and respectful relationship with ourselves.
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Archival date: 2019-06-06
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