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Monday, April 28, 2008

Postmodernism and Lying

Postmodernism, in its most explicit form, not only questions the existence of truth, but proclaims its non-existence. Let's set aside the paradox that one cannot make a proposition that there are no truths and have that proposition be true. Instead, let's look at this from another, more practical, perspective.

If there is no truth, then there are no lies. Certainly, if we remain in the relam of philosophy and not in the realm of practicality, a case can be made that there are no lies. However, consider what the response is when you are on the receiving end of a lie. Little else brings out your sense of truth, your sense of right and wrong than being the recipient of a lie.

Lies are so damaging to relationships. Lies rupture trust, throw into question how a relationship will progress, and perhaps forever change the relationship even with forgiveness because once there has been a lie in the relationship, there can never not have been a lie in the relationship. You know that there is the capacity for a lie to be executed in that relationship.

In a bizarre twist of irony, lies may provide some of the best evidence for the existence of truth.

10 comments:

Steve said...

The postmodernist guys and gals give a lot of attention to language and are great at making pronouncements counter to what we commonly take for granite. I think it is usually as a tool for shocking one into deeper thought and exploration. Nonetheless, your quote about "lies" pointing to the existence of truth is great.

Lonely Dissertator said...

and the motivation for such a post would be...?

john alan turner said...

so...the real question regarding a particular worldview might be, "can you live with the consequences of this belief?"

Fajita said...

Interesting responses. I like the question about consequenes of belief systems. It helps to connect philosophy to laundry.

My motivation? I have been buried in a dozen research articles on adolesent lying to parents.

My guess is that many postmoderns, REAL disbelievers in truth, believe that they don't believe in truth, but live as though there is truth.

I have come to a place (today) in my thinking to believe that there is truth and truth is good - and the idea that there is truth is badly abused by most everyone, truth affirmers and truth deniers alike.

"And Now You're Mrs. Him" said...

You're simple line about lying being so damaging to relationships is right on! We're dealing with my stepson who, from time to time, lies to get his way. I'm also dealing with an adult friend who is a liar. And it's funny, no matter what the age, no matter how much you can understand why someone would love (to get what they want, to cover their butt, etc) it still hurts. The moral to that story for me is the simple motto: always tell the truth!

Matt said...

A few years ago, Cecilia Bok postulated a good framework for analysis of this issue. She said that the focus should be on DECEPTION, rather than lying.

To lie, one must: (1) know "truth" and (2) speak something besides truth. If you deny that (1) is possible, then lying becomes meaningless. But....

To DECEIVE, one must only lead someone to believe something that they do not themselves believe to be true. This framework gets around the postmodern critique of lying by focusing on the subjective experiences of the speaker and listener. If I try to make you think something I don't think, I'm deceiving you.

Point #2: in defense of the deception-prone 17 year-olds of the world, I think there is also a lot to be said about the need for the hearer to have the capacity to respond with grace and acceptance to whatever they are told. Deception is wrong. But it becomes a huge temptation when one expects to experience rejection for speaking their mind.

Fajita said...

Matt, excellent points. Good liars don't actually lie. Deception is much more effective. Intent and motive come into play, of course.

Furthermore, about teenagers and lying, there is much to be said about this topic and I am sure much more will appear on this blog about it.

In short, as adolescents learn how to navigate relationships with parents and other adults AND learn how to assert autonomy and independence (This is what parents want, right?) then managing the information they own about themselves andhteir environment becomes an essential part of their own development and the development of their relationships with adults.

And they have to do while living under someone else's power - their parents. If that parental power is oppressive (illegitimate authority), then deception and lying become an increasingly attractive option.

Keith Brenton said...

There's no such thing as truth?

That can't be true.

There's no such thing as truth.

"And Now You're Mrs. Him" said...

You're simple line about lying being so damaging to relationships is right on! We're dealing with my stepson who, from time to time, lies to get his way. I'm also dealing with an adult friend who is a liar. And it's funny, no matter what the age, no matter how much you can understand why someone would love (to get what they want, to cover their butt, etc) it still hurts. The moral to that story for me is the simple motto: always tell the truth!

Steve said...

The postmodernist guys and gals give a lot of attention to language and are great at making pronouncements counter to what we commonly take for granite. I think it is usually as a tool for shocking one into deeper thought and exploration. Nonetheless, your quote about "lies" pointing to the existence of truth is great.