Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Research Institute for Contemporary Philosophy of Life, Osaka Prefecture University


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After Freud
: How Well Do We Know Ourselves and Why Does It Matter?

Kathleen O’Dwyer

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.3, No.2 (April 2013):97-107



Deep down, we believe that we know and understand ourselves better than anyone else can know us. We believe we know what we are thinking, what we are feeling, what we are doing and the reasons for these experiences. We have a vague sense that others may perceive us differently but we conclude that this difference results from the fact that they do not really know us. From birth to death, I am my most constant companion; I am at the centre of all my experiences, at every level. Therefore, surely I know myself! How often do we explain an opinion, a decision or a behaviour by referring to our unquestionable knowledge and understanding of ourselves, who we are, how we are and why we are the way we are? We challenge our audience, listener or friend to support this self-knowledge as we proclaim decisively: ‘You know me, that’s just the way I am’, ‘I’ve always been like this’, or, ‘this is what I always do’. The implication is that if you knew me as well as I know myself, then you would comprehend my behaviour as an inevitable expression of who I am.

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