Socrates famously asked the question 'know thyself'.
When I first read of this it impressed me. It seemed like an important question. What could be more important than knowing your own self? It seems like the ground from which one must or ought to begins from.
It also confused me. How can one begin to answer this question? I was at a loss. For how is it possible that one cannot know what one is? Surely your own self is that which is most closest to you - being closer than your own jugular vein.
If one knows anything then one knows ones own self. I do not need to think about how I pick up a cup, I reach out and I pick it up. No knowing goes on there. Or rather that knowing was learnt in childhood and now forgotten. Knowing the capacity of ones own mind and body is a game children play, and they play it innocently. That is they are not self-conscious of this self-learning. They do not reflect upon it.
As a man, with childhood dismissed and forgotten. It seems self-knowledge is something already known. That the self is self-identical. But Jimenez, the Spanish poet demurs at this characterisation. He writes:
I am not I
-- I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see
whom I sometimes manage to visit
and whom, at other times, I forget
It seems that one might ask the question: how can or does one know another, but not your own self - unless it, as Jiminez puts it, is an other. One might begin to describe what this means by asking what can I do, or think, or hope for; that is to ask what are the potentialities and actualities of what it is to be my own self. And to be my own self is not to find myself alone but to find myself in a world with many, many things and persons with their own capacities and actualities.
Heidegger described Dasein as:
That being which in its very Being has that Being as a question.
Is Heideggers concept of Dasein an attempt to answer this very question?