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222 equivocates is an

editor James Hastings
222 equivocates is an untruthful man. Under the head of equivocation may fairly be brought many of those partially deceptive utterances which are sometimes, but unconvincingly, defended as mere social conventions on a par with the customary phraseology of address and other ‘ common forms of speech generally understood.’ 1 If, e. g., in declin-ing an unwelcome invitation I express regret at being unable to accept it, the defence that this is a usual and well- understood way of notifying my intention, while disguising the motive, is inade-quate. But, supposing I do regret the disappoint-ment which my refusal may cause or the circum-stances which render the invitation unacceptable, the phrase employed is equivocal rather than actu-ally false. If, instead of declining, I profess ‘ plea-sure in accepting ‘ the invitation, the pleasure need not be wholly fictitious; for it is in my power by an effort of goodwill ( a) to feel pleasure in ac-cepting, and not refusing, the civility offered, and ( b) to find altruistic pleasure in a visit not natu-rally attractive. By thus choosing to be pleased, a man determines on the side of truth what would have been equivocation. Even where there is an actual element of falsehood, we recognize degrees of insincerity. A statement which in the main re-veals the speaker’s purpose, feeling, or knowledge of fact, but disguises some detail, is not in the same degree vicious as an entirely misleading ut-terance, unless, of course, the point misrepre-sented is the most essential, in which case the saying may be exemplified that ‘ the worst lies are half truths.’ Yet we cannot altogether reject the widely spread view of ‘ common sense,’ that a di-rect lie stands on a different footing from any indirect device whether of hiding the truth ( sup-pressio veri) or of creating a false impression ( suggesłio falsi). There is a common understanding that, when we speak, we do not state what we know to be untrue. Socially regarded, then, a direct lie is a graver breach of faith, and a worse blow to mutual confidence, than any statement, how-ever evasive, which does not actually violate this understanding. 4. Conclusion.— On the whole, the main dif-ference between ancient and ‘ modern’ views of inveracity is that in the latter censure is directed primarily on discrepance between statement and thought rather than on the divergence from reality of a spoken, or unuttered, proposition. ‘ Modern’ morality tends to be severe upon mis-statements, apparently wilful, of particular facts, but is strangely lenient wherever ‘ ignorance’ can be pleaded— as if ignorance was not often wilful, or reckless, indifference to truth. Many persons will habitually declare as fact anything that they do not positively know to be untrue, and, when con-l J. Butler, Analogy, Dissertation ii.’ Of the Nature of Virtue’ ( ad fin.) ( ed. J. H. Bernard, London, 1900, p. 295). victed of error, take no shame to themselves. They ‘ thought’ it was so. To Plato such untrue ‘ thought’ or ‘ lie in the soul’ appeared more manifestly evil than any spoken lie; and, though Christianity, supervening, emphasized the distinction between wilful sin and intellectual error, there is nothing in the NT to justify, and the Johannine writings abundantly discountenance, the ‘ modern’ view aforesaid, which indeed rests upon nothing better than the assumption that we are entitled to ignore truth, if not to pervert it. In practice the former habit leads on to the latter. Having once enter-tained and echoed some untruthful allegation, a man will often shut his ears to all disproof and pervert other facts in support of it. Again, if ‘ lying’ proper implies some kind of utterance, the wider concept of ‘ falsehood’ includes ( a) self- deception, and ( b) the unuttered lie cherished in the heart and potent to vitiate judgments whether of fact or of value. The dishonest- minded man frequently propagates untruth without any formal or positive lying. If he thus on technical grounds escapes being designated a liar, he yet comes within Ar-istotle’s description of ‘ the man who delights in falsehood as such. Doubtless this permanent dis-position is acquired only through repeated indul-gence in lying for the sake of some particular gain. If it is seldom attained, an intermediate stage is very frequent. Many men and women rarely tell the truth, regarding it as something too precious to give away! The relation of inveracity to ‘ that most excellent of all virtuous principles, the active principle of benevolence,’ emerges in Butler’s ‘ Dissertation of the Nature of Virtue.’ Linking ‘ falsehood’ as a cardinal vice with ‘ injustice’ and ‘ unprovoked vio-lence,’ Butler holds that ‘ veracity as well as justice is to be our rule of life’; by these our benevolence must be conditioned. Of the view which condemns lying as violation of a man’s duty to himself, the typical exponent is Kant, who stigmatizes a lie as ‘ an annihilation of the dignity of man,’ and deprecates argument from the injury done by the liar to others as confusing ‘ the duty of truth with the duty of beneficence’ ( Caird, ii. 384). On the other hand, the best English moralists of the past century, notably Sidgwick and Martineau, take a wider and at the same time a more discriminating view of the nature and harmfulness of falsehood. LITERATURE.— In addition to the authorities quoted in the art. see H. Sidgwick, Methods of Ethics7, London, 1907, bk. iii. ch. vii. ( from the intuitional standpoint), bk. iv. ch. iii. ( from the utilitarian standpoint); J. Martineau, Types of Ethical Theory2, Oxford, 1886, section on ‘ Veracity’ ( pt. ii. bk. i. ch. 6, § 12); T. H. Green, Prolegomena to Ethics, do. 1883, p. 344 f.; J. S. Mackenzie, Manual of Ethics, London, 1897, pp. 189, 319 f.; H. Rashdall, Theory of Good and Evil, Oxford, 1907, i. 90, 192– 196. For the attitude of non- Christian peoples towards lying see MI, ch. xxx. f. J. M. SCHULHOF. M A A R R I.— 1. Life.— Abu’l- Ala Ahmad ibn ‘ Abdallah ibn Sulaiman al- Ma‘ arri, the celebrated Muhammadan poet and man of letters, was born in A. D. 973 at Ma arra ( Ma arrat al- Nu man), a prosperous Syrian town situated about 20 miles south of Aleppo. At an early age he became almost completely blind in consequence of an attack of smallpox, but so extraordinary was his power of memory that this misfortune did not seri-ously interfere with the literary studies to which he afterwards devoted himself. It would seem that at first he intended to make poetry his profession. The sums gained by writing pane-gyrics were often immense, and may well have tempted an ambitious youth with the example of Mutanabbi before him. Abu’l- Ala, however, declares that his poems were not written for hire. Probably this is true in the sense that he soon abandoned a career which, lucrative as it might be, entailed dependence on the precarious favours of patronage and was destructive of every feeling of self- respect. From the age of 20 to 35 he remained at Ma arra, a poor and comparatively unknown scholar, supported by a small annual pension paid from a trust- fund. During this time he composed the greater part of the collection of poems entitled Siqt al- zand (‘ Sparks from the Tinder’), in which the influence of Mu-tanabbi is apparent. With the object of seeking a wider field for his talents, he left Ma arra in A. D. 1008 and journeyed to Baghdad, where he was well received by the learned men; but, instead of settling there, as he had planned, he departed after a stay of eighteen months, and, on returning home, announced his intention to retire from the world. Though, according to his own statement, it was lack of means and the news of his mother’s illness that caused him M MA ARRIAnd— Art | Art— Bun  | Bur— Con | Con— Dra | Dra— Fic  | Fic— Hyk  | Hym— Lib  | Lif— Mul | Mun— Phr  | Pic— Sac | Sac— Sud | Suf— Zwi   P a g e      V i e w    P a g e     V i e w  Search | F i n d | H o m e | Index

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222 equivocates is an untruthful man. Under the head of equivocation may fairly be brought many of those partially deceptive utterances which are sometimes, but unconvincingly, defended as mere social conventions on a par with the customary phraseology of address and other ‘ common forms of speech generally understood.’ 1 If, e. g., in declin-ing an unwelcome invitation I express regret at being unable to accept it, the defence that this is a usual and well- understood way of notifying my intention, while disguising the motive, is inade-quate. But, supposing I do regret the disappoint-ment which my refusal may cause or the circum-stances which render the invitation unacceptable, the phrase employed is equivocal rather than actu-ally false. If, instead of declining, I profess ‘ plea-sure in accepting ‘ the invitation, the pleasure need not be wholly fictitious; for it is in my power by an effort of goodwill ( a) to feel pleasure in ac-cepting, and not refusing, the civility offered, and ( b) to find altruistic pleasure in a visit not natu-rally attractive. By thus choosing to be pleased, a man determines on the side of truth what would have been equivocation. Even where there is an actual element of falsehood, we recognize degrees of insincerity. A statement which in the main re-veals the speaker’s purpose, feeling, or knowledge of fact, but disguises some detail, is not in the same degree vicious as an entirely misleading ut-terance, unless, of course, the point misrepre-sented is the most essential, in which case the saying may be exemplified that ‘ the worst lies are half truths.’ Yet we cannot altogether reject the widely spread view of ‘ common sense,’ that a di-rect lie stands on a different footing from any indirect device whether of hiding the truth ( sup-pressio veri) or of creating a false impression ( suggesłio falsi). There is a common understanding that, when we speak, we do not state what we know to be untrue. Socially regarded, then, a direct lie is a graver breach of faith, and a worse blow to mutual confidence, than any statement, how-ever evasive, which does not actually violate this understanding. 4. Conclusion.— On the whole, the main dif-ference between ancient and ‘ modern’ views of inveracity is that in the latter censure is directed primarily on discrepance between statement and thought rather than on the divergence from reality of a spoken, or unuttered, proposition. ‘ Modern’ morality tends to be severe upon mis-statements, apparently wilful, of particular facts, but is strangely lenient wherever ‘ ignorance’ can be pleaded— as if ignorance was not often wilful, or reckless, indifference to truth. Many persons will habitually declare as fact anything that they do not positively know to be untrue, and, when con-l J. Butler, Analogy, Dissertation ii.’ Of the Nature of Virtue’ ( ad fin.) ( ed. J. H. Bernard, London, 1900, p. 295). victed of error, take no shame to themselves. They ‘ thought’ it was so. To Plato such untrue ‘ thought’ or ‘ lie in the soul’ appeared more manifestly evil than any spoken lie; and, though Christianity, supervening, emphasized the distinction between wilful sin and intellectual error, there is nothing in the NT to justify, and the Johannine writings abundantly discountenance, the ‘ modern’ view aforesaid, which indeed rests upon nothing better than the assumption that we are entitled to ignore truth, if not to pervert it. In practice the former habit leads on to the latter. Having once enter-tained and echoed some untruthful allegation, a man will often shut his ears to all disproof and pervert other facts in support of it. Again, if ‘ lying’ proper implies some kind of utterance, the wider concept of ‘ falsehood’ includes ( a) self- deception, and ( b) the unuttered lie cherished in the heart and potent to vitiate judgments whether of fact or of value. The dishonest- minded man frequently propagates untruth without any formal or positive lying. If he thus on technical grounds escapes being designated a liar, he yet comes within Ar-istotle’s description of ‘ the man who delights in falsehood as such. Doubtless this permanent dis-position is acquired only through repeated indul-gence in lying for the sake of some particular gain. If it is seldom attained, an intermediate stage is very frequent. Many men and women rarely tell the truth, regarding it as something too precious to give away! The relation of inveracity to ‘ that most excellent of all virtuous principles, the active principle of benevolence,’ emerges in Butler’s ‘ Dissertation of the Nature of Virtue.’ Linking ‘ falsehood’ as a cardinal vice with ‘ injustice’ and ‘ unprovoked vio-lence,’ Butler holds that ‘ veracity as well as justice is to be our rule of life’; by these our benevolence must be conditioned. Of the view which condemns lying as violation of a man’s duty to himself, the typical exponent is Kant, who stigmatizes a lie as ‘ an annihilation of the dignity of man,’ and deprecates argument from the injury done by the liar to others as confusing ‘ the duty of truth with the duty of beneficence’ ( Caird, ii. 384). On the other hand, the best English moralists of the past century, notably Sidgwick and Martineau, take a wider and at the same time a more discriminating view of the nature and harmfulness of falsehood. LITERATURE.— In addition to the authorities quoted in the art. see H. Sidgwick, Methods of Ethics7, London, 1907, bk. iii. ch. vii. ( from the intuitional standpoint), bk. iv. ch. iii. ( from the utilitarian standpoint); J. Martineau, Types of Ethical Theory2, Oxford, 1886, section on ‘ Veracity’ ( pt. ii. bk. i. ch. 6, § 12); T. H. Green, Prolegomena to Ethics, do. 1883, p. 344 f.; J. S. Mackenzie, Manual of Ethics, London, 1897, pp. 189, 319 f.; H. Rashdall, Theory of Good and Evil, Oxford, 1907, i. 90, 192– 196. For the attitude of non- Christian peoples towards lying see MI, ch. xxx. f. J. M. SCHULHOF. M A> A R R I.— 1. Life.— Abu’l-> Ala Ahmad ibn ‘ Abdallah ibn Sulaiman al- Ma‘ arri, the celebrated Muhammadan poet and man of letters, was born in A. D. 973 at Ma> arra ( Ma> arrat al- Nu> man), a prosperous Syrian town situated about 20 miles south of Aleppo. At an early age he became almost completely blind in consequence of an attack of smallpox, but so extraordinary was his power of memory that this misfortune did not seri-ously interfere with the literary studies to which he afterwards devoted himself. It would seem that at first he intended to make poetry his profession. The sums gained by writing pane-gyrics were often immense, and may well have tempted an ambitious youth with the example of Mutanabbi before him. Abu’l-> Ala, however, declares that his poems were not written for hire. Probably this is true in the sense that he soon abandoned a career which, lucrative as it might be, entailed dependence on the precarious favours of patronage and was destructive of every feeling of self- respect. From the age of 20 to 35 he remained at Ma> arra, a poor and comparatively unknown scholar, supported by a small annual pension paid from a trust- fund. During this time he composed the greater part of the collection of poems entitled Siqt al- zand (‘ Sparks from the Tinder’), in which the influence of Mu-tanabbi is apparent. With the object of seeking a wider field for his talents, he left Ma> arra in A. D. 1008 and journeyed to Baghdad, where he was well received by the learned men; but, instead of settling there, as he had planned, he departed after a stay of eighteen months, and, on returning home, announced his intention to retire from the world. Though, according to his own statement, it was lack of means and the news of his mother’s illness that caused him M MA> ARRI And— Art | Art— Bun | Bur— Con | Con— Dra | Dra— Fic | Fic— Hyk | Hym— Lib | Lif— Mul | Mun— Phr | Pic— Sac | Sac— Sud | Suf— Zwi << P a g e > > < < V i e w >> << P a g e > > < < V i e w >> Search | F i n d | H o m e | Index
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