“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, William Shakespeare
I spied this graffiti board on the Landmark College campus and this bit of wisdom jumped out at me; Be Who You Are. I have been contemplating the you in this phrase. The you of the self. It strikes me that some people know their true self from a young age, and others spend their lives searching for it. I think that Socrates would smile at this sentiment being expressed on a college campus.
What exactly is the self that we speak of? It certainly is deeper than our outward appearance which changes constantly. Do you consider your true self to be your soul?
Socrates gave us our western view of the soul circa 400 B.C. His view was that the soul is the basis of our personality and our morality, and it was our lives work to tend to your soul to conduct your life rightly and make yourself the best that it can be. He also brought forth the idea that the soul is immortal and hence, carries our divinity.
To most people the importance of the soul is an idea that seems self-evident. The Christians some 400 years later endorsed this view and carried it forward to today. Socrates’ doctrine of the soul led him to the belief that all virtues converge into one, which is the good, or knowledge of one’s true self and purposes through the course of a lifetime. Do you know anyone that doesn’t hold Socrates’ view as true? How about if we take off the immortal and divine aspect?
Where does your conception of your self reside? Are you true to it?
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”