Self-knowledge is one of the most important forms of knowledge as far as leading an upright life is concerned. It is the essential foundation for sound reasoning and making correct decisions that one may not live to regret. In the essay, “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” the characters in the narration, the likes of Peter Ivanovich, seem to be equally academically qualified with Ivan Ilych (Tolstoy 10). However, the death of Ilych appears to impress them because they can now have a chance to fill his job post and have higher salaries. In this perspective, they have vast outside knowledge but their personal knowledge is limited making them think and act selfishly. The experience of their self-knowledge has taught them that when an employee dies, co-workers are most preferred to replace him.

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At times, self-knowledge and personal knowledge contradict, leading to the loss of some important personal values such as respect. Based on the narration of “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” it seems that outside knowledge makes one recognized and respected in the society. The fact that Ilych was a lawyer made him recognized by many people and influenced people to visit his widow with condolences. At the same time, the contradiction between self-knowledge and outside knowledge is seen when some of the colleagues of Ilych start eyeing his job position with hopes of being promoted. In other words, although self-knowledge may be an important factor for acquisition of the outside knowledge, it is not always a trigger to outside knowledge. One may have as much education as possible yet continue to have low levels of personal knowledge. The latter depends on experience and exposure to different situations requiring different approaches. However, some people, especially those preferred to fill leadership positions, have a good relationship between personal and outside knowledge.

Religion is important and makes people sharpen their personal knowledge. According to “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano,” even the most learned people need religion and application of the personal knowledge to make the right decisions that benefit everyone. This explains the reason for high reverend and respect for religious leaders by governments and state officials (Equiano 6). The ability to apply personal knowledge in religion sometimes depends on the level of religious belief that one has. According to “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano,” outside knowledge makes individuals able to understand themselves, those around them, and the world they live in. It also gives people an understanding of the environment around them and enables them to socialize and relate to other people. The creation of these relationships is based on the acquisition of knowledge that directs people how they should relate with one another. At the same time, personal knowledge is also a foundation for social relations. If one possesses adequate personal knowledge, he or she can interact and relate with individuals of different cultural and personal backgrounds.

Another importance of the outside knowledge that helps to shape personal knowledge is because outside knowledge informs people about their history and cultures. It informs about important historical happenings such as the slave trade and other factors that led to division and diversity of the modern world. The acquisition of the outside knowledge is important to make people learn why things are the way they are, why some communities do not cooperate, and how personal relations are developed based on historical factors. In this perspective, outside knowledge informs personal knowledge. The two types of knowledge are parallel, and none can survive without the other.

Frederick Douglas was the first African-American to hold a high-profile office in the United States. This is based on his ability to acquire a high level of the outside knowledge. The acquisition made him exposed and able to deal and cope with people of diverse cultural and social perspectives (Douglass 4). In his role as a profession, his duty was not to present the African-Americans or even to fight for their rights. However, the fact that he was a Civil Rights champion makes it clear that outside knowledge is a good sharpener for personal knowledge. Those with high levels of the outside knowledge are perceived as intellectuals and are respected by the society. The acquisition of high levels of the outside knowledge also makes the society perceive an individual as more experienced on the personal grounds and able to lead them through difficult circumstances. In other words, both the outside knowledge and personal knowledge complement each other. The acquisition of the outside knowledge makes an individual sharper and more exposed to the world. The exposure enhances personal experience, which is a foundation for the acquisition of personal knowledge.

In conclusion, both personal knowledge and outside knowledge are important for personal development. The outside knowledge enhances the personal knowledge by making an individual more exposed and experienced on personal grounds. The outside knowledge also attracts values such as respect and high-level roles and responsibilities. Nevertheless, it is not always the case that those with high levels of the outside knowledge also have high levels of personal knowledge. Some individuals may be highly educated but lack the basic skills of decision-making and making the right personal choices. Nonetheless, the application of personal knowledge in the preferred way requires its integration with the outside knowledge. This is mainly because the outside knowledge exposes the individual to the world and makes one diverse.