Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Aristotle on truth and lies

It's breathtaking to me how slippery people can be with their blended truths, half truths, or outright lies as they say, "I swear to you..."

Sociopaths might lie all the time, but I'm talking about those in the average stream of life who can and do lie more so than others, either for profit and gain or to avoid punishment or disapproval.

I read the following years ago from a book titled Aristotle: A Very Short Introduction.*

This is the Aristotelian definition of the truth. It's what we use in courts of law when we swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It takes these three conditions to assure that truth emerges.

I.   "The truth." What is; not what isn't.

II.   "The whole truth." Not just a part of the truth, but also that other part of the truth that, if known, could put you in a bad light.

III.   "And nothing but the truth." Not the truth with a lie stuck in it to make the truth more palatable.

*Review: "A short, sweet, and selective commentary and analysis of Aristotle's works and ideas. A fine adjunct to the reading of the translated texts. A highly recommended aid to the student meeting Aristotle ab initio. Boy, what a book!"--Steven C. Fleishman, University of Maryland)


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