As to the familiar saying — of “knowing one’s self” — what can it possibly mean? The saying, “Know thyself”, was inscribed on various temples in Ancient Egypt and was known to be one of the Delphic maxims.
Socrates, of course, taught a variation of the statement, contending that the “unexamined life is not worth living” — but the question which immediately comes to the fore is: At what point do we examine ourselves? Is it a daily, continuous engagement? Do we wait until we reach various stages of our lives before proposing such an examination?
For most of us, we don’t have the time or energy that Socrates had — of constantly stirring up trouble and pestering and peppering this person or that with questions that are meant to confound, confuse, irritate and provoke; and to examine one’s life is to constantly ask questions which we may know not the answers to.
Is it the questioning itself which is so important (one might posit that such an approach to life is precisely what Socrates himself believed)? Were the questions posed by Socrates actually answerable, or were they just rhetorical flourishes meant to undermine the accepted, normative conclusions of the day?
To that extent — of questions without necessarily expecting any definitive answers — perhaps if Socrates were to appear in this age, he would be overjoyed with the way in which we live today: of therapy accepted as the modality of self-examination; of the explosion of “self-help” books and the payment-for-services of “life coaches” and “experts” on “living”.
Ultimately, “knowing thyself” is an endeavor that has no boundaries and cannot expect definitive answers, precisely because the “self” is an ever-expanding phenomena and “knowing” is never a static activity.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is preventing the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the maxim of “Know Thyself” is an important element in making a decision concerning Federal Disability Retirement.
You must know what your job is; what your physical or mental capabilities are; and whether you can continue on in the job that you hold. Further, it is the maxim itself which should lead you to consult with a Federal Disability Retirement Attorney, that is, a lawyer who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application; for, in the end, to know thyself is to gather knowledge from all sources in an effort to “know” and to clarify the boundaries of “thyself”.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire