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Know Thyself - The Value and Limits of Self-Knowledge: The Examined Life

All-Time Top 100

University of Edinburgh via Coursera

28 Reviews 6895 students interested
  • Provider Coursera
  • Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
  • Session Upcoming
  • Language English
  • Certificate Paid Certificate Available
  • Start Date
  • Duration 4 weeks long
  • Learn more about MOOCs

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Overview

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.

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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.

Syllabus

Getting started

Socrates and the Examined Life
-At his trial, charged with corrupting the Athenian youth, Socrates isn't exactly apologetic. He tells the jury to their faces that they only charged him because they don't like that he forces them to confront uncomfortable truths. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the jury sentences him to death. Socrates accepts the sentence unfazed, famously stating that he'd rather die than stop making people think, as 'an unexamined life is not worth living'. In this module we will examine this dictum and ask: was Socrates right to throw shade on the unexamimed life?

Descartes' Essence
-Are you dreaming right now? How do you know you're not? Rene Descartes set himself a pretty titanic task: to doubt absolutely everything he cannot be certain of - even that the world exists! - and then try to see if we can rebuild our knowledge of ourselves and the world only from what we can be really certain of. In the process, he formulated some provocative thoughts on the radical separation of the mind from the body.

A re-casting of the Mind/Body problem
-Descartes' dualistic picture of the mind-body relation was highly influential for centuries. A vocal minority of thinkers challenged dualism, but only in the Twentieth Century did Gilbert Ryle manage to discern how Descartes' dualistic reasoning went wrong. In understanding Ryle's approach, we will also gain an appreciation of how know-how is a legitimate form of knowledge, and of how one way of gaining self-knowledge is by looking outward rather than looking inward.

MIND AND SELF: Some Aspects of Human Nature
-Is there such a thing as a human nature? And if there is, how can we know what it is? In this module we will look at how the concept of human nature is used and potentially misused, and what can all this tell us about ourselves. And finally: can human nature be changed?

Final assessment

Taught by

Mitchell Green

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Reviews for Coursera's Know Thyself - The Value and Limits of Self-Knowledge: The Examined Life
4.7 Based on 28 reviews

  • 5 stars 89%
  • 4 star 0%
  • 3 stars 7%
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  • 1
Anonymous
5.0 6 years ago
Olena completed this course.
Amazing course! Prof. Green is an exceptional teacher who knows the subject and delivers it with love! It didn't feel like an academic course but rather like an interesting discussion. Great philosophers Ryle, Freud, Descartes were sharing their point of views on the nature of human being, raising questions, and seeking answers. What is self? What is the "right act"? What dreams are telling us?

The last few weeks Buddhists also joined the discussion with their wise Koans and The Principle of Lightness. We, students, were deeply involved. Many were writing and sharing ess…
8 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 6 years ago
Boring completed this course.
Good Afternoon. It's with some sadness that I verified that I have no longer access to this course. I got to know about coursera some weeks ago and immediately engaged in this course (even though it was finished already). I was following it very passionately, I just started with week 2, reading Descartes, and was dedicating this hours to seeing some more video lessons. Unfortunately I can't keep going...

Does anybody here have an archive of the course videos and readings links? I wanted it very bad for my days have been super entertaining with this studies. So I ask you students and you the professor for help.

Hope to get an answer.

João
2 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 7 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Prof.Green is an amazing story-teller. I never understood or enjoyed reading ancient texts, but with M.Green's "translation" they became as current as modern literature. Socrates' or Descartes' questions about meaning of life remain open and as applicable to our times as they were centuries ago. I think the journey of knowing thyself is reconciliation and finding peace with thyself. This class is just about it.
2 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 6 years ago
Agnieszka completed this course.
I'm dying to watch these videos, please anybody can share them with me?by google drive or oder way? i don't have faith no more in finding better teacher.

i'm waiting for miracle, which is you good person, please

write to me here

agniesia_9@wp.pl
3 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The course was awesome as well as Prof. Mitch Green. I would recommend it to anyone who may wish to look within and question some of the conditionings of his/her life.

YOu will certainly know stuff about you!
2 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 5 years ago
Natalie completed this course.
This is probably the best MOOC class I have ever taken! Sad that it is not available for the public now, but really hope Dr. Mitchell Green would teach this class again!!
3 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 4 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Know Thyself is a fantastic course! The materials covered are varied and enlightening. The videos, readings and meditations set the stage to really learn a great deal about oneself. Mitch Green is a great teacher.
2 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 4 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
My first MOOC which set the highest standard for all the other courses I've taken. Highly challenging, insightful, profound and deep. Remember and cherish it.
1 person found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Fantastic Class. The material was varied, interesting and relevant. Professor Green is an excellent teacher.
2 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Professor Mitchell Green is a great teacher..He explained difficult notions very understandable ways.
2 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 5 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I´ve taken 17 courses (Coursera and Edx) in the last two years.

This one is one of the three best so far.
2 people found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
3.0 7 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Unusual course.

Can be made much more effective using the fast-forward button :)
0 person found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Loved it! Prof Green is engaging and passionate and knows his work.
1 person found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This is easily the best Coursera course I've done so far!
1 person found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 5 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Excellent

All credit to Professor Mitchelll Green.
1 person found
this review helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 4 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I loved the know thyself course by Prof Mitchell Green !!!! If anyone has a copy of the videos please send to me . Thank You email paulrachel@aprj.brcoxmail.com
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 3 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Terrific course delivered by a terrific teacher. It's a shame this is no longer available to the public. I do hope its offered again.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Sylvia A
5.0 8 months ago
by Sylvia completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
It's the course about the last statement of Socrates : "know yourself". I learned a lot about philosophy and myself. I recommed it.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 4 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The best MOOC I've ever taken, its a great shame it hasn't ran again as I'd love to revisit it.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Scott O
3.0 3 years ago
by Scott completed this course.
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