In many psychological, religious, and ethical theories it's been suggested that you know yourself, through contemplation, cognition, etc.

It's like trying to recognize who you really are deep inside, and why you do what you do, stuff like that.

But do we have a name for this knowing yourself?

Update: I'm searching for a universally recognized name, and to clarify even more, if theology means knowing God, I'm searching for something like you ology, or to know yourself.

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    "Self knowledge" I think captures this best. – Pieter Geerkens Jul 29 '13 at 4:56
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    Not exactly true, very often compound words mute over time and then become single-words. If a compound word communicates your idea, thought, and message, then it has done its job. Compound words are fixed, e.g "post office" toothbrush used to be "tooth brush". "self awareness" is almost a unit. It has its own, unique meaning – Mari-Lou A Jul 29 '13 at 6:17
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    I understood. I guess it's better if I say I'm searching for a globally recognized term, whether it's a single word, or a compound word. I just want it to be something that I can find in somewhere like wikipedia. – Saeed Neamati Jul 29 '13 at 6:23
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    What I'm after, is a deep understanding of one's character, just the way one knows other people. – Saeed Neamati Jul 29 '13 at 6:47
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    @Kris The OP's question is on lexis, terminology, and nomenclature. His question is not philosophical. He can ask any future questions to that group at a later date. :) – Mari-Lou A Jul 29 '13 at 7:32

10 Answers 10


Satori refers to “A sudden inexpressible feeling of inner understanding or enlightenment”. While feeling of such understanding obviously may be different from having it, satori often refers to the latter.

Note, enlightenment itself is a consequence of “achieving clarity of perception, reason and knowledge”. Also see epiphany, “An illuminating realization or discovery, often resulting in a personal feeling of elation, awe, or wonder”.


According to the Free Dictionary, the word you are looking for is autology. I would read it as "the study of one's self" as I would read theology as the study of God.


Since you seem to be looking for a name for the process of "knowing oneself through contemplation etc.", there are a few terms that may fit the bill.

  1. Self-realisation (religious/spiritual term)


  1. Self-actualisation (psychological term)

to realize fully one's potential

  1. Individuation (psychological term)

the act or process of individuating: as a (1) : the development of the individual from the universal (2) : the determination of the individual in the general


I believe finding who you are by exa examining the way we do things in life and choices we make the best definition for a single or plural to word answer would be a "moral inventory"


"Nosce te ipsum" is a saying which has been thrown around quite a bit; though it's not necessarily a term, it's an aphorism, so if you're looking for a word which captures the essence of "knowing thyself", this may not be it, but it might be helpful to know that it (gnoscere) is the root of "cognisance (cognizance)", according to Dictionary.com and Wikipedia.

It was more widely used in the 1820-1840's than it is now though, according to Google's Ngram viewer.

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Emphasis mine:

Psychology is an academic and applied discipline that involves the scientific study of mental functions and behaviors. Psychology has the immediate goal of understanding individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases,...


The word psychology literally means, "study of the soul" (ψυχή, psukhē, meaning "breath", "spirit", or "soul"; and -λογος -logos, translated as "study of" or "research". The Latin word psychologia was first used by the Croatian humanist and Latinist Marko Marulić in his book, Psichiologia de ratione animae humanae in the late 15th century or early 16th century.

Related to the study of "self" and to the eternal question "Who am I?

Self-concept http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-concept

  • New and nice look. Self-realization = psychology. Can we say that? – Saeed Neamati Jul 29 '13 at 7:18
  • I'm not an expert. I don't have the confidence to confirm or not. – Mari-Lou A Jul 29 '13 at 8:01

You could be said to be cognizant


I would go for circumspectology. Based on circumspective - looking around carefully, or there abouts.


Introspection is the observation or examination of one's own mental and emotional state, mental processes, etc. It is the act of looking within oneself or the tendency or disposition to do this.

From Wikipedia:

Introspection is the examination of one's own conscious thoughts and feelings. In psychology the process of introspection relies exclusively on observation of one's mental state, while in a spiritual context it may refer to the examination of one's soul. Introspection is closely related to human self-reflection and is contrasted with external observation.

Introspection generally provides a privileged access to our own mental states, not mediated by other sources of knowledge, so that individual experience of the mind is unique. Introspection can determine any number of mental states including: sensory, bodily, cognitive, emotional and so forth.


How about sibiology? The root sibi and the study seem to fit.

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    Welcome to ELU. We value answers which justify what they suggest (Where does sibi come from?) and also answers which are written in sentences, with capital letters and punctuation. – Andrew Leach May 14 '15 at 7:37

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