True Falsehoods

When I named this blog I didn’t realize that I was actually using a philosophical concept that began with Plato. I just liked paradoxes in general and thought I was being clever. So when I googled the name of my blog, I discovered that I’d inadvertently stumbled upon something: Plato’s Lie in the Soul. And it’s amazing.

“Plato defines the “true lie” as believing wrongly about the most important things in one’s life. [This kind of lie is different than ordinary lying or storytelling.] When one tells a lie, one knows that one is not telling the truth, and when one tells a story one understands that the story is not absolute fact. When one has a lie in the soul, however, one is unaware that what they believe to be true is actually false and so they speak untruths constantly without knowing they are doing so. To believe wrongly about the most important things in one’s life renders one incapable of seeing life realistically and, so, incapable of understanding the true nature of existence, of others and, especially, oneself. In order to recognize the lie in one’s soul one must attach oneself to a philosopher and pursue wisdom. In this pursuit, one will come to understand what one’s lie is and, once it is realized, will be able to leave the lie behind and move on to live a life of truth, honesty and clarity.”

Interesting, isn’t it? While I hadn’t really considered the purpose of this blog, I suppose that is indeed what it’s all about. I’m attempting to leave behind my “lies of the soul” and live a life of truth, honesty and clarity. This blog allows me to think through and internalize important ideas. I’ll solidify my own truth so that I can confidently share those ideas with others.

Image Source: Moyan Brenn

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9 thoughts on “True Falsehoods

  1. This is in reply to your comment on March 29,2017.

    You wrote,”There’s probably a lot of correlation between being truthful and ethical.”
    I also think so.

    You wrote,” I would want to be truthful in my words (but also kind …and silent when need be).”
    I also would want to be truthful in my words (but also kind …and silent when need be).

    Emily. my concern here is that one should not put “lies of the soul” at the same level as ethics.
    “lies of the soul” is a most fundamental matter where as ethics has to take in to consideration the person or society one is dealing with and modified accordingly. There is no compromise as far as “lies of the soul” is concerned.
    But if one is strict about truth in ethics one would not survive in any society on Earth ( Just imagine if you were living in Stalin’s Russia, Hitlers Germany or any religious dogmatic society. You would not survive long.)
    “lies of the soul” is a matter between you and yourself only. Your choice is whether you deceive yourself or not. Any other person or society does not enter in this matter. This is a matter of how you relate to yourself only. I think that my honesty to myself is the most important to me and every thing else depends on this for me.

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    1. I see what you’ve been driving at now, I apologize for being dense! It’s hard to have a conversation over many days. heh. But yes, I do agree with what you said “lies of the soul is a matter between you and yourself only”. And your example about Stalin and Hitler gave me some pause, because of course you are right about that–being outspoken in truth could mean imminent death. In a case like that, being silent, I suppose you would have to take comfort in knowing that you are not lying to yourself, that you know the “right” way… but one’s inaction could cause the deaths of thousands. Which I suppose would not be ethical, but you are preserving yourself… so what is right?

      Life is hard.

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      1. “I see what you’ve been driving at now, I apologize for being dense! It’s hard to have a conversation over many days. heh. But yes, I do agree with what you said “lies of the soul is a matter between you and yourself only”.

        It speaks well for you that you are willing to learn. You do not need to apologize. I have several lies of the soul which I am not aware of. All humans deceive themselves and they are not aware that they are deceiving themselves. I like to discover what untruths I am believing so that I can progress in my understanding of reality. As you wrote in your post, “When one has a lie in the soul, however, one is unaware that what they believe to be true is actually false and so they speak untruths constantly without knowing they are doing so.” The choice is between honesty to yourself or deceiving yourself. Often there are strong pressures, psychological and social, to lie to yourself and go the way of self-deception.

        What do you think?

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    1. This is a very timely question, because I’ve recently discovered an answer to it, I think. Of course there are many potential answers, but for now I’ll just quote my new favorite thinker, Jordan Peterson: “It’s not an easy thing to live in a truthful manner, but the alternative is hell.” The hell in this quote is a symbol of the deepest form of human suffering. Living with untruth and deceit, or even ignorance and delusion can rob you of the opportunity to reach your highest potential. It can make one resentful. Truth has the potential to positively transform our world and ourselves. Also, conducting yourself in a truthful way can protect others that are vulnerable to believing untruths and encourage them to rise above it too.

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      1. I think that I do understand what you mean by ” lies of the soul” and I congratulate you on that you want to be rid of these. But I do not understand what you mean by ” live a life of truth”. Can you explain that? Examples of living a life of truth and living a life of untruth?

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      2. Hmm… I think that living a life of truth is done a variety of ways. I can think of a few off the top of my head: by thought, speech, and action. An example of “thought” might be that I want my ideas about important topics to be clear and well-reasoned, and in accordance with reality (but all the while open to listening to other viewpoints). When speaking to another, I would want to be truthful in my words (but also kind …and silent when need be). I feel that it is important to only share true things with other people. In action, I’d want to “do all I’ve agreed to do.” That is if I say I will do something, I follow through, which in effect makes what I say “true”. There’s probably a lot of correlation between being truthful and ethical. Does that answer your question?

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  2. Very good Emily, ” I’m attempting to leave behind my “lies of the soul” and live a life of truth,” This is wonderful and I wish you progress in this quest. I suppose that I am also on this quest.

    I may be posting questions on your blog, the purpose would be my own and yours progress towards this goal by provoking deeper thought.

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