Scio Te (Know Thyself) . . .

The words “Scio Te” are Latin for the eminent maxim, “Know Thyself” inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Earlier this year we talked about that famous inscription made at the direction of the Seven Sages of ancient Greece, early-6th-century BC philosophers, statesmen, and givers-of-law renown in following centuries for their wisdom.

In short, these sages laid much of the foundation for Western Culture, the world that we live in today. So why, of all the many words they could have chosen to leave, did they choose these?

Plato, who helped make the axiom a standard in western philosophy, provides the answer . . .

I must first know myself . . . to be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still in ignorance of my own self would be ridiculous.

Plato’s point is this: it is foolhardy to attempt learning more about the world around us, and the others in it, until we have first learned who we are.

We need to know why we think what we think; why we feel what we feel; and why we do what we do before we can really learn.

Why? Because, our proper use of external knowledge about the world and about others is predicated on the internal motives hidden in our heart.

Knowledge alone is like most things, it is a “tool” or “vehicle” without moral designation. However, its use to accomplish things can indeed have the moral designation of “good” or “evil” and it is the user of the information that dictates this.

So, knowing thyself will help you in making decisions about how to use knowledge for the good of others, versus self. As we have mentioned before, good leadership requires embracing this wisdom, and St. Francis College Prep students learn to do so.