This chapter sketches some historical perspectives on self-knowledge and self-awareness, paying particular attention to the historical ﬁgures whose work has strongly inﬂuenced contemporary thought in this area. We begin with a brief discussion of the ancient Greeks. The focus of the
chapter is on three modern ﬁgures whose writings continue to inﬂuence debates in this area: René Descartes (1596-1650), John Locke (16321704), and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Each of these philosophers inspired one of the three major approaches to self-knowledge taken up in the book. The acquaintance theory (Chapter 4) is broadly Cartesian; the inner sense theory (Chapter 5) is rooted in Locke’s writings; and the rationalist theory (Chapter 6) draws on Kant’s thought. Descartes and Kant also inspired contemporary theories of self-awareness (Chapter 7). The ﬁnal section of the chapter discusses the work of two twentieth-century philosophers, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Gilbert Ryle, who deny that our grasp of our own mental states constitutes a special type of knowledge. Their arguments are a principal source of contemporary objections to leading theories of self-knowledge.