At the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi, stood written the words gnōthi seauton, know thyself.
But anyone who’s read Dante Alighieri understands the Delphic engraving to have been incomplete, for a true knowledge of oneself is an inward gaze, a contemplation of one’s own heart. Or as Dante puts it in Vita Nova, Vide cor tuum, See your heart – before it gets consumed by the object of one’s desire.
Once the poet had looked within, he couldn’t look away, and the rest of his work, especially the Commedia, is a deep dive into the recesses of one’s own sensibility and cognition, an attempt to plumb the bottomless crater of one’s existentially-volatile being.
Vide cor tuum – an Inferno of misplaced desires, a Purgatory of self-renewal, a Paradise of attainement and dépassement de soi. To reach the point of trasumanar, the going beyond the mark of humanity into what we’ve always been called to be, is to take a journey down into the pit, and a coming-out on the other side, where the abyss of one’s darkness suddenly transforms itself into a mountain of hope.
The Greeks got it right, an unexamined life is not worth living, and the chief aim of consciousness is to discover the spectacle within before bursting into the world without.