Philosophical Quotes on Lying

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Lying is a complex activity, one that we often blame, despite the fact that several times it may be the best ethical option left to us. While lying can be been seen as a threat to civil society, there seem to be several instances in which lying seems the most intuitively moral option. Besides, if a sufficiently broad definition of "lying" is adopted, it seems utterly impossible to escape lies, either because of instances of self-deception or because of the social construction of our persona. In the sequel, I compiled some favorite quotes on lying: if you have any additional ones to suggest, please do get in touch!

Baltasar Gracián: "Don’t lie, but don’t tell the whole truth."

Cesare Pavese: "The art of living is the art of knowing how to believe lies. The fearful thing about it is that not knowing what truth may be, we can still recognize lies."

William Shakespeare, from The Merchant of Venice: "The world is still deceiv'd with ornament,
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
But, being season'd with a gracious voice,
Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?"

Criss Jami: "Just because something isn't a lie does not mean that it isn't deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction..."

Gregg Olsen, from Envy: "If only these walls could talk…the world would know just how hard it is to tell the truth in a story in which everyone’s a liar."

Dianne Sylvan, from Queen of Shadows: "She was famous, and she was insane. Her voice soared out over the audience, holding them spellbound and enraptured, delivering their hopes and fears tangled in chords and rhythm. They called her an angel, her voice a gift. She was famous, and she was a liar."
Plato: "We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."

Ralph Moody: "There are only two kinds of men in this world: Honest men and dishonest men. ...Any man who says the world owes him a living is dishonest. The same God that made you and me made this earth. And He planned it so that it would yield every single thing that the people on it need. But He was careful to plan it so that it would only yield up its wealth in exchange for the labor of man. Any man who tries to share in that wealth without contributing the work of his brain or his hands is dishonest."

Sigmund Freud, from The Future of an Illusion: "Where questions of religion are concerned, people are guilty of every possible sort of dishonesty and intellectual misdemeanor."

Clarence Darrow, from The Story of My Life: "Some false representations contravene the law; some do not. The law does not pretend to punish everything that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere with business, and, besides, could not be done. The line between honesty and dishonesty is a narrow, shifting one and usually lets those get by that are the most subtle and already have more than they can use."

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Borghini, Andrea. "Philosophical Quotes on Lying." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Borghini, Andrea. (2023, April 5). Philosophical Quotes on Lying. Retrieved from Borghini, Andrea. "Philosophical Quotes on Lying." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 31, 2023).