Posted tagged ‘Andre Gide’

Know Thyself?

May 7, 2009

Know thyself! A maxim as pernicious as it is ugly. Whoever observes himself arrests his own development. A caterpillar who wanted to know itself well would never become a butterfly.

– Andre Gide, French writer

I find this a very interesting quote.  I like it because it contracts so much popular sentiment and shows an elegance of independent thought.  However, I don’t think I entirely agree.

Yes, the caterpillar must look beyond what he now is to become something more.  BUT he must first observe what he currently is and, more importantly, the potential that already lies within him.  Knowing oneself is not just about knowing who one currently is, but knowing who one wants to and is capable of being.

Therefore, know thyself indeed – but include in that knowing the knowledge not just of where you are but where you are going.  Be the caterpillar who beholds his green skin with love, yet holding within himself joyfully the image of a butterfly.

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