Leonard Cohen On His Violation Of The “Socratic Imperative To Know Thyself”

I’m not a great examiner. I suppose it’s violating some Socratic imperative to know thyself, if that’s who it was, but I’ve always found that examination extremely tedious.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen, speaking to Sylvie Simmons, quoted in Leonard Cohen 1934–2016 by Phil Alexander (Mojo: November 11, 2016). Photo by Dominique BOILE

DrHGuy Note: Who Said “Know Thyself?”

Well, lots of folks, including but not limited to Socrates. Of the sources I checked, Wikipedia offers the most straightforward exposition. Excerpts follow:

The Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” or “gnothi seauton” is one of the Delphic maxims and was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi according to the Greek writer Pausanias. The aphorism came from Luxor in Ancient Egypt.

… The aphorism may have come from Luxor in Ancient Egypt. Pre-Socratics like Thales of Miletus and Pythagoras of Samos are thought by some to have had ancient Egyptian influences, according to Greek folklore and later writers including Aristotle. In any case the saying assumes a distinctive meaning and importance in Greek religion and thought. The Greeks attributed much of their wisdom to Egyptian sources.

… Plato employs the maxim ‘Know Thyself’ extensively by having the character of Socrates use it to motivate his dialogues. Plato makes it clear that Socrates is referring to a long-established wisdom

One Reply to “Leonard Cohen On His Violation Of The “Socratic Imperative To Know Thyself””

  1. Judith Ripp

    Back in March, you quoted Leonard Cohen as saying he was interested in
    “another kind of intimacy … what Socrates said: ‘KnowThyself’.”

    If you read his poems and prose and listen to his songs
    you know that what makes them so compelling is the deep
    connection he makes within.