What is Lying?

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What is lying? Why would we care?

There is a level of mutual attunement and of social intelligence that is not only possible, but natural to groups of mutually trust-worthy, and truth-full People. This attunement to each other, and to the real, living world gets shut off when we lie. But what is lying?

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P.D. Ouspensky shares some powerful light on the matter in The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution. I read it regularly; it’s clear, useful, and challenging.

“As it is understood in ordinary language, lying means distorting or in some cases, hiding the truth, or what people believe to be the truth. This lying plays a very important part in life, but there are much worse forms of lying, when people do not know that they lie. I said in the last lecture that we cannot know the truth in our present state, and can only know the truth in the state of objective consciousness. How then can we lie? There seems to be a contradiction here, but in reality there is none. We cannot know the truth but we can pretend that we know. And this is lying. Lying fills all our life. People pretend that they know all sorts of things: about God, about the future life, about the universe, about the origin of man, about evolution, about everything; but in reality they do not know anything, even about themselves. And every time they speak about something they do not know as though they knew it, they lie. Consequently the study of lying becomes of the first importance in psychology.

And it may lead even to the third definition of psychology which is: the study of lying.

Psychology is particularly concerned with the lies a man says and thinks about himself. These lies make the study of man very difficult. Man, as he is, is not a genuine article. He is an imitation of something, and a very bad imitation.”

-P.D. Ouspensky The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution

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2 Responses

  1. Paul Tryba

    Thanks again for being a stand to inquire deep with in and be truthful to ourself and what is happen in the world around us.

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