TED Conversations

Seigi Karasaki

Organizer @ TEDxTodai, TEDxTodai


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Do people deserve to know the truth, even if it isn't in their best interest?

Is truth always the best choice of action? In "On the Decay of the Art of Lying," Mark Twain argues:

"Lying is universal--we all do it; we all must do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling. Then shall we be rid of the rank and pestilent truth that is rotting the land; then shall we be great and good and beautiful, and worthy dwellers in a world where even benign Nature habitually lies, except when she promises execrable weather. "

What are your thoughts?


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    Mar 16 2013: I think the question is: How do you determine that the truth isn't in their best interest? Is it really upto us to decide that (and lie as a result of the rationality we design for it)?
    We can't see the future, we can't see everything, so all we have are our own personal assumptions to dictate the fate of the person in question.
    There just aren't that many instances where lying can legitimately be known to be ultimately for the greater good, and by extension, it doesn't seem appropriate to withold potentially life-alterting information from someone which is essentially making you choose their life for them.
    Just my two cents.
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      Mar 21 2013: i agree that we can not be absolutely sure if lying is the best thing for another person, yet we trust ourselves that it is the right thing to do.. (for what ever reason)

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