Thursday, December 28, 2006

What makes a lie?

What makes a lie? Is a lie the opposite of the truth or are both terms a gray shade in the black and white spectrum. Assuming that a lie is a piece of information contrary to fact or truth, in that case truth or fact must be identified. I don’t want to get into the whole definition of truth and what have you, I will assume that we know exactly what a lie is about. My real concern here is when does a lie become a lie.

The trouble is that the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that it can be very subjective. If someone were to speak a fact that wasn’t true, then we would assume it to be a lie, but what if that person believed it to be true, is it still a lie? It’s not a lie to him, so can the piece of information take two forms according to the viewpoint from which you are looking at it? On the other extreme suppose someone spoke a fact that he believed to be false and yet he was mistaken about it and it turned out to be true, is it a lie then?

How much of our intention has to do with words being lies or truths?

Let’s say someone wrote a note describing something he will do as a past. A suicide note saying, “I’ve killed myself, for I could not bear the pains of this world any longer.” It seems to me like it would be a lie at the time of writing, yet transformed into the truth if it is done. It remains a lie if it is preempted. So what makes a lie a lie?? There’s an intricate link between lies and time and intention.

If one were to say I was in the street just a while back, would it be a lie if he was there a minute ago, an hour ago, a week ago? When does it start becoming a lie. If never then lies themselves are not what I thought them to be.

If lies take such a form, does its archenemy, the truth, take a similar form too? If lies contain some truth to them, then mustn’t truth contain some lies in them as well? Let’s forget sincerity for a while because sincerity never changes fact. If truth and lies can contain so much of each other then they can be confused.

But I think that there’s a difference. A piece of truth inside a lie cannot prove that all of it is true, but a small lie inside the truth has a much more illuminating effect.

The trouble is that one man’s lie is another man’s truth. If lies are so subjective, then we can only evaluate them in relation to people.

The man who said a truth thinking it was a lie seems to remain, still, a liar and to the person who heard it, that same lie is a truth.

Lies are in the ears of the beholder, but can we say the same about truth?


N said...

truth is absolute Will. it is not relative, our perceptions of it are.

Will E. said...

But would you agree that lies are not as absolute as truth?

N said...

i suppose lies vary in their magnitude and effect, the intention and such. but at the end of the day what is not truth is just not truth. the things that make certain lies tolerable have nothing to do with how much truth is in them, it is usually about an intention behind it that is somewhat humane. truth is absolute, and the anti of that is just a blur of different variations.

Will E. said...

that's why I ask what makes a lie, cause the blur makes you not so sure if it's truth or not.. even our perceptions of truth are blurred sometimes..

N said...

i heartedly disagree, let me use color as an example, lets say truth is white, white is just white, the absence of any tainting by lies. Lies lets say are black, you have blue black, purple back, red black etc etc.
Truth just is, no levels, no blurs, maybe you mean a truth that is not the whole story, then we go to other areas such as sincerity and honesty and such.
lies have many faces, the truth doesnt.

N said...

and Will, is there any specific reason you have this word verification thing on? it drives me mad and i always get it wrong the first time!

Haroun El Poussah said...

I disagree with N. Nothing is absolute. Lies, truth, etc are all what we make of them

Will E. said...

Well.. maybe somethings are absolute, only we can never know cause our grasp of them is always limited.. we can only believe that there's an absolute truth but we can never really prove it.