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Tabor Williams

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If you tell a lie and it becomes the truth, does it matter that you once lied?

In the way that some people questions whether or not the ends justify the means, I'm wondering if you tell a lie and it becomes the truth, does it matter that you once lied?


Closing Statement from Tabor Williams

Thanks for all the participation and discussion everyone!

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    Nov 18 2012: Tabor,

    You had an interesting exchange below with Pat Gilbert where you press the question: "Do you think that lies can ever be beneficial?" You also touch questions of improving reality and happiness: "So then does lying create a future inherently worse than one where we tell the truth?"..."I think you're equating people who lie with those who are fundamentally unhappy, or those who are pathological liars."

    Here is my philosophical take on it. I agree with Pat. Lying has to do with happiness. We all perceive reality (what is). We also have desires what the reality should be (what ought). We are happy when our "what is" matches our "what ought" - when reality matches our desires. When it does not, we are unhappy. People deal with it in different ways. Some strive to change reality - work hard, change personalities of others, get things, etc. This rarely leads to happiness. Striving for things becomes our nature, and it's never enough. Some people misrepresent reality to themselves and to others (lie). I think, this dissonance between desires and reality is at the root of lying. Pat's comparison to taking drugs is quite appropriate. Lying about reality may create only an illusion of happiness with rude awakening.

    The third way to happiness advocated by most religions is to be content with what we have and have faith that tomorrow we will have enough to survive. It's about accepting the reality and people "as is", without moral judgments. It's also about accepting ourselves "as is", without desires to be someone else. This way, we won't have the need to lie - enhance breasts and penises, cheat, steal or otherwise try to make ourselves happier than we are.

    Some people say that such faith is self-deception. I don't see it that way. To answer your question, when we "lie" about our attitudes, these "lies" become true. To me, that's totally acceptable. E.g. I may lie to myself that I "love my enemies" and do good things to them.
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      Nov 18 2012: Thanks for the response! I think that you do bring up some very interesting points. So my question would then be, can you "fake it until you make it?"

      I don't think that honesty and happiness are necessarily the same, but they do go hand in hand in most cases.
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        Nov 18 2012: Re: "can you "fake it until you make it?"

        "We can't all, and some of us don't" -- Eeyore :-)

        I wouldn't say, honesty and happiness are the same. I believe, adequate perception of reality is essential for happiness and many other things.

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