A survey of a wicked, irreverent, serious, harmful, cruel and enjoyable (for some) side of human civilization.
Including quotes on lies and lying (good, bad and indifferent) from famous people who should know better.
Why do we lie? The answer may seem obvious to you because you know why you have and even when you haven’t quite known the answer it was never important enough for you to fret over, especially when you got away with it. But in the very obviousness of the answer we all may be missing the deeper underlying reasons. In a very interesting conversation I had with the respected Oxford anthropologist Bruce Corrie, he touched upon the natural order of things (in terms of evolution) and how everything we create and do, is a reflection of nature. What is the evolutionary advantage in being able to lie?
The answer to this also seems obvious until you ask yourself what the evolutionary advantage might be in lying to someone you love?
This short book looks at some of the most recent research done by psychologist, behaviorists, sociologists and security services and tries to shed some fascinating light upon the subject. Suggesting that lies go deeper than we ever expected before because of our ability to lie to ourselves; and that what was simply a survival mechanism has actually come not only to be used inappropriately but for some becomes if not a way-of-life then the way life works.
Before psychologists created themselves, the only people who talked about lies were philosophers when they discussed ethics, and religious people on their way to becoming saints.
Everyone who wrote and thought about lies quoted each other regularly over the centuries. St. Jerome from St.Origen, St.Origen from Plato, who quoted Socrates:
“If...falsehood is disgraceful and useless to God, to men it is sometimes useful, if only it is used as a stimulant or a medicine...”
(Plato, Third Book of the Republic. Not my translation)
Another saint, Augustine, devoted two whole treatises to the topic. ‘On Lying’ and twenty-seven years later ‘Against Lies’, and he identified eight kinds of lie.
Lies in religious teaching.
Lies that harm others and help no one.
Lies that harm others and help someone.
Lies told for the pleasure of lying.
Lies told to “please others during conversation.”
Lies that harm no one yet help someone.
Lies that harm no one and save life.
Lies that harm no one and save someone’s “purity.”
Sadly it is too late for my purity, but this list was the first of many, many more.