Consider the ancient imperative ‘Know Yourself’. To what extent might different ways of knowing help us as individuals and communities to achieve this goal? How can knowledge help us to know or understand ourselves? Can knowledge that we only get in school help us to achieve this goal? What other ways of knowing help us as individuals and communities to achieve this goal? The truth is that, the knowledge we only get in school is not enough to achieve the goal to know ourselves. In school we learn different subjects as math and science.
In school, the idea is to make us think; we hear or read something and we apply it to what we know or think we know. By taking various courses and lessons, we find out what we are good at, what we aren’t good at, and what interest us. In school we learn to interact with people, our teachers and our friends. School teaches us discipline and self-awareness. We have to be on our own in school and there are no parents to guide us and to tell us the right thing to do. Soon or later, we have to think for ourselves and take the right decision. I think this has taught us to be independent and responsible.
Ways of knowing are perception, language, emotion, reasoning, and I think all these ways of knowing is affected by our environment; where we live and grew up. We use our senses to learn. One of these senses is perception. We believe what we see. But this is not particularly correct for everyone. We all have different opinions, and the way we see things might be different from what other people see. Some people believe in something that is unexplainable or something they have never seen before, like UFO or alien and other supernatural things.
Since every person is brought up differently, they will perceive things differently as well. In perception, there’s no right or wrong answer because perception is just based on our opinion which could be different from other people. When we tell someone our perception, they can agree or disagree with our opinion. But it is common when people have the same perception and opinion. This is when they become friends because they can share the same thing without arguing to prove that one’s opinion is better than the other’s. The main use of language is to communicate.
We say what we feel, and we express our opinion by communicating. Sometimes we have different opinion from others, and from here we know more about ourselves. Speaking your native language identifies who you are and where you come from. How well we communicate sometimes depend on where we grew up and our surroundings. If we grew up in a community where there are lots of communication and social interactions, we would be more likely to be an extrovert. If we grow up where there are not many interactions between each other, we would be more likely to be an introvert.
But personalities can make all this different. There are people who grew up in a quiet environment and they are still an extrovert, and there are shy people who grew up in a socially interactive community. However, some people have troubles in communicating. Some of them can’t really express how they feel. This can be caused by where they live in or what their childhood were like. For example, from where I come from, Indonesia, some of the people are really introverts. They do not talk about how they feel and they are really quiet.
When they move to a Western country, they might have problem adapting to the new surrounding, as Western people are more of an extrovert than an introvert. They might have problems learning the new language as well. This is why I think communication and language is an important way of learning, but we can’t rely entirely on language because everytime we translate a language to another language, the word value and meaning would be different. Emotions. We have our own emotions, which reflects how we really feel inside. It is an interaction of our heart and the brain; one is dependant on the other.
For example one with a mentally ill brain would have problems expressing his/her feelings. Because we are different from each other, we have different emotions. Like some people will think that killing ant is mean and some people wont even bother to think about it. These people who think that killing ant is mean are very sensitive people. This makes up part of our personality. It is possible to experience an emotion or feeling that cannot be expressed in language. Our emotions are not made up of language and words. It is made of our feelings; that is why sometimes we cannot express or tell someone how we really feel.
Reasoning is how we use basic laws of logic to achieve consistency in our thoughts. It is what lays behind the decisions we make; why we make that decision. Since we were young, we learn by asking questions. We probably learn most from our parents since they were the first people we ask questions to. What our parents teaches us is probably different from what other parents teach their kids. This is where our perception and opinion is different from other people. But as we grow up and learn new things, we will re-examine what we thought about something and change our mind.
We might now have different opinions from our parents. We might be closer to our friends than to our parents, because we now have more similar opinions and perception to our friends. We can learn from the media too. The media provides a wide range of information. With media, we can find out what other people’s opinion and perception about something. It can help because when I experienced something that I thought no one would ever experienced, then read about it on a media, I will feel relieved because I am not the only one experiencing it; so I’m not alone, there are other people like me in the world.
There are websites that have quiz to find out what kind of personality we have. I think this kind of media will help us to know ourselves. But they don’t provide all the information we want and need. Sometimes we have to think for ourselves, why we are behaving the way we do, and what kind of person we are. Like a saying “Best friends know you more than you do”, I think it is possible to ask friends what kind of person we are, as they might know something about ourselves that we don’t even realize.
And besides of knowing ourselves better, we can change our bad habits and become a better person. When I combine what I think or feel, with my emotions, it will help me to understand more about who I am. All these ways of knowing makes up our personality. We have different perceptions, language and emotions, and that’s what makes us different from each other. By all these different factors, we know our personality; if we are introvert, extrovert, temperamental, patient, etc. By exploring ourselves, we will know and understand ourselves better.
Knowing ourselves, is knowing what we like, what we don’t like, what we are good at, and what we aren’t good at. It’s finding out the answers to the BIG question, “How can I serve? What can I do? ” Thus when we know ourselves, we can serve man and help others and communities to know this. We are all given talents and abilities, some that we inherited from our parents. We are different from other people and we don’t need to be ashamed of that because we are all unique individuals.