The Virtue of Self-Knowledge

I’m getting ready to present a paper, “Teaching Composition: Purgation and Self-Knowledge,” at the Kuyers Institute conference at Calvin College later this week. Below are some quotations I’ve included in my paper.

Now that the soul is clothed in these other garments of labor, dryness, and desolation, and its former lights have been darkened, it possesses more authentic lights in this most excellent and necessary virtue of self-knowledge.

-St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night

To know oneself is, above all, to know what one lacks. It is to measure oneself against Truth, and not the other way around. The first product of self-knowledge is humility.

-Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners

To give oneself up in love, or dedication, one must have a self.

-Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace


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