In Self-Knowledge and the Self, Jopling poses the question of whether it is really possible to know ourselves as we really are and illuminates issues about the nature of self-identity that have fundamental importance in moral psychology, epistemology and literary criticism.
Jopling observes that self-knowledge is possible, although it is not what one might initially think it is - a solitary and contemplative endeavour, a work of the self and by the self. On the contrary, Jopling claims that the self we come to know is dependent on how it is known. He asserts that self-knowledge is a dynamic process which is only possible in interaction with other selves. In other words, we know ourselves insofar as we are known by others - and we learn to answer the question ''Who am I?'' not by hermit-like withdrawal from society but through face to face dialogue with other people who have widely differing sensibilities and outlooks than we do.
The book focuses on four major accounts of self-knowledge: The philosophical psychology of Stuart Hampshire, the existential-phenomenological philosophical psychology of Jean-Paul Sartre, the neo-pragmatist philosophical psychology of Richard Rorty, and dialogical philosophical psychology.
Along the way, and by way of illustration, the book engages themes in literature, drama and psychology.