The Invention of Truth
January 25, 2010 · Posted in Philosophy
Today I watched “The Invention of Lying”. The main theme of the movie has enormous philosophical implications. The striking humor in almost all conversations in the movie lies in the fact that people tell each other the truth on all occasions.
It shows us how lying, a thing most of us profess to consider immoral and wrong, is in fact one of the most basic elements in our societal fabric. We act surprised and upset whenever we find out that some government official or CEO lied about something at some point in time. But we fail to realize how much we and our friends actually lie in our personal lives.
The idea that “the family” is more important than non-family, the idea that your school teachers are right and good and that you are bad if you don’t listen to them and do your homework, the notion that a god exists, the notion that a government is necessary – all these are lies that most people are completely incapable of revealing to themselves.
Anyone who is new to the consistent application of such ideas is likely to roll their eyes, brush it off as nonsense, or resort to plain ridicule. This is expectable behavior and should not concern us in the pro-truth movement too much. For we are asking people to give up on lies that they have clung to for decades, have arranged their entire lives around, and may, at times, have greatly benefited from.
Isn’t it possible that some of the most basic falsehoods and lies at the root of our societies which only very few people are capable of seeing, actually stem from every single one’s proneness to lie in certain situations? Couldn’t it be that the above mentioned manifestations are but a mere result of our own disregard for the truth in our own day to day lives?
How can we strive for more truth and accountability in political and business affairs if we ourselves aren’t even capable of consistently being truthful on our personal lives?
We all know that real societal change necessitates a new philosophical revolution, a movement that widely spreads the true facts about all the falsehoods we grew up with. We can’t get rid of the government, religion, blind family-alleciance, and public schools, if the majority of the people has not been guided toward the shining light of truth. But as such people must first and foremost accept its benefits. So long as we deem it expedient from time to time to delude ourselves and others on vital matters, it is likely to be impossible for most to see any value in truth.
Thus such a philosophical revolution almost necessitates something like a reversal of what happens in the movie, namely “The Invention of Truth”.