Know Thyself: The Science of Self-Awareness (Hardcover)
“Are you sure?”
Whether in a court room, a doctor’s office, a gameshow’s hot seat, or a student’s desk, we are always trying to answer that question. Should we accept eyewitness testimony or a physician’s diagnosis? Do we really want to risk it all on a final question? And what should we be studying in order to do as well as possible on a test? In short, how do we know what we and others know—or as importantly, don’t know?
As cognitive neuroscientist Stephen Fleming shows in Know Thyself, we do this with metacognition. Metacognition, or thinking about thinking, is the most important tool we have for understanding our own mind. Metacognition is an awesome power: It is what enables self-awareness as well as what lets us think about the minds of others. It is the ultimate human trait, and in its most rarefied forms is a power that neither other animals, nor our current artificial intelligences, have. Metacognition teaches us the limits of our own knowledge. Once we understand what it is and how it works, we can improve our performance and make better decisions. For example, on the SAT, it helps us gauge when we should skip a question rather than lose points getting an answer wrong.
Know Thyself, like the metacognition itself, is equal parts scientific, philosophical, and practical. And that means, like Thinking, Fast and Slow and Predictably Irrational, it’s that rarest of books: one that can both expand our minds and change our lives.
—Sam Harris, Making Sense Podcast
"One of the must-reads of 2021.Scientific, philosophical, and practical, it sheds lights on 'metacognition'—our thoughts about thoughts and the importance of self-awareness to almost anything we embark on."—Five Books
One of Behavioral Scientist's 10 Notable Books of 2021—Antonia Violante, Heather Graci and Evan Nesterak, Behavioral Scientist
“A rational person must practice what the neuroscientist Stephen Fleming, in ‘Know Thyself: The Science of Self-Awareness’ (Basic Books), calls ‘metacognition,’ or ‘the ability to think about our own thinking’—'a fragile, beautiful, and frankly bizarre feature of the human mind.’”
—Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker
"In Know Thyself, cognitive neuroscientist Stephen Fleming synthesizes this multifaceted research into an admirably coherent narrative and outlines how the resulting knowledge may be applied to solve societal problems . . . In the end, the book makes a convincing case that self-awareness is a key feature of human existence and that our growing knowledge about it will be important for addressing many of our societal problems . . . Fleming’s book finally heaves metacognition into a long-deserved place in the scientific spotlight."—Christian C. Ruff, Science
"Of great interest to the general public, and scientists alike. ... Fleming constructs his arguments fluently and systematically. He builds our understanding of the concepts layer by layer, taking the reader with him at a gentle pace."—Michael David, Cognitive Neuropsychiatry
"What a wonderful book. From self-doubt to self-awareness, and everything in between. Steve Fleming, who has made his career study thoughts about thoughts, or metacognition, takes the reader on a journey into what it means to be a being that knows its self, and, as a consequence, can contemplate the self inside others."
—Joseph LeDoux, author of The Deep History of Ourselves
"Know Thyself is an extraordinary book. Written by a leader in the science of self-awareness, it is both accessible and erudite, a self-help manual and a work of scholarship. It will be a rewarding read for anyone who wants to understand how metacognition (and its failures) affect us in personal and public life – in education, sports, law, politics, and in our ever-deepening engagements with AI."—Cecilia Heyes, Professor of Psychology at University of Oxford and author of Cognitive Gadgets
"I used to believe that in psychology 'If it’s interesting, we can’t measure it. And, if we can measure it, it’s not interesting'. After reading this book I realize how wrong I was. Nothing is more interesting than exploring our own minds and now there are rigorous new methods to quantify such explorations. Steve Fleming provides a superb guide to these methods, and furthermore, he demonstrates the crucial importance of developing self-awareness for dealing with society’s most pressing problems."
—Christopher Frith, Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology at University College London and author of Making up the Mind
The Inaugural Santa Fe Literary Festival was a huge success!
Collected Works was very proud to have been on-site all weekend as the official bookstore of the Santa Fe Festival. Bestselling, prizewinning authors and literary legends like Margaret Atwood, Joy Harjo, Colson Whitehead, Sandra Cisneros, Jon Krakauer, amongst others, spent time in our mini-bookstore in the lobby of the Convention Center and signed hundreds of books, which we now have in stock. So if you missed the festival but are looking for a signed copy of one of their books, please call us or come in to browse.
Purchase your books by festival authors directly from CW below:
Margaret Atwood; Freddie Bitsoie; Sandra Cisneros; Lynn Cline; William deBuys; Ashley Ford; John Grisham; Roshi Joan Halifax; Joy Harjo; Anne Hillerman; Cheryl Alters Jamison; Craig Johnson; Asma Khan; Phil Klay; Jon Krakauer; Valeria Luiselli; Deborah Madison; Emily St. John Mandel; George R. R. Martin; James McGrath Morris; Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co.; Carmella Padilla Douglas Preston; Kirstin Valdez Quade; Bob Shacochis; Henry Shukman; Hampton Sides; Bryant Terry; Darryl Lorenzo Wellington; Colson Whitehead; Don Winslow; Lawrence Wright