The Oldest Injunction in Language


‘Know Thyself’: Gnothi Seauton. In the Sanskrit: Atmanam Viddhi.

You can find variants of it in every literate culture. The oldest, most ubiquitous injunction in Language.

Self-Inquiry is an absurd idea. I can inquire about any and all things in this great and grand world of ours. Except inquire about me.

Self-Awareness? I can never be aware of that which is aware. I can be aware of anything but the source of my awareness.

Self-Knowledge? I can know about all things in this our magnificent cosmos. But I may never know myself.

Any self I can inquire about, be aware of or know, is not me, but a model of ‘Me’.


‘Model of me’ is my confounding of Objects as Subject and elaborating it in copious detail using signs and symbols, the mediums of Language and Logic and Thought. A construction using binary divides and mounted on the beginning presumption of the presence of a Separated ‘Self’. We get to it in detail later.

Gnothi Seauton. The celebrated words on the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Theodosius razed it to the ground hoping to end all remnants of Paganism. It didn’t work.

Oscar Wilde proposed an appealing alternative, ready-for-use: ‘Be Thyself’. A big hit with the New-Age community ever since.