15 January 2010

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Hypocrisy (the beauty of)

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing a very relevant topic, hypocrisy, but
maybe, with a bit of a twist, the beauty of hypocrisy.

Although hypocrisy is considered a bad thing, we have to agree that it
is nevertheless based on some nifty thinking. And maybe it is this that
brings out the beauty in hypocrisy. However, it might be beautiful, but
I don't think it is desirable.

See you Sunday

All the best



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Tertulia with Ignacio and friends: Every Thursday, from 19:30 to 21h, at
Moore's Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal).

Hypocrisy (the beauty of)

Hypocrisy is a form of lying which in game or strategy theory would be
considered as cheating. Those who are hypocrites espouse beliefs which
they really do not hold. But they know very well, or at least ought to
know, that if people accept these hypocritical beliefs these people
would behave and act in such a way that would normally benefit the

However, we have to be clear and distinguish between hypocrisy and maybe
expressing a lie for some greater good. For example a politician might
deny the existence of a plot to blow up parliament knowing full well
that there is such a plot. But by lying the politician hopes to avert a
panic in the country, or at the very least parliament.

However, a politician who claims to believe in open and transparent
government but then makes secret deals with terrorists is certainly a

For hypocrisy to succeed there must be two important conditions:
believability by the intended audience and to act upon such a belief by
said audience. Furthermore, for hypocrisy to make sense the hypocrite
should really receive some sort of benefit. And although there is no law
to be rational, I submit that rational hypocrites would seek a benefit.

Once again we must distinguish between hypocrisy and acquiescence and
conformity. The chances are that if our bosses or leaders are hypocrites
we have very little choice but to acquiesce and play the game if we have
to work or live with these people. Some might argue that the real choice
is to be a hypocrite or to leave the organisation we belong to.

But, maybe, very few people are in the envious position where they can
just pack their bags and leave. Some institutions or organisations
choose people who they can directly or indirectly control or manipulate.
However, they claim that they are only providing employment to people.

For example, employing married people, especially men with families, who
just simply cannot just pack their bags and leave. Thus making these
people very vulnerable to manipulation. Women who are career minded can
also become vulnerable to sexual harassment.

Although hypocrisy can and in many cases does bring some benefit, it is
also what I will call "relatively short term" strategy. Short term
because eventually the person will be found out, but relative because it
might take a very long while for this to happen.

But there is a different type of beauty to hypocrisy that really makes
it a survival strategy rather than an opportunistic strategy. Lying
would be opportunistic because we can take advantage of our action in a
given limited context, and maybe in a given instant. There is something
about the here and now about lying that hypocrisy does not have.

Hypocrisy and hypocrites, have to build and nurture their social
environment where the lie is to flourish. Not only flourish in the
present, but the hypocrite hopes to benefit also in the long term. Thus
the hypocrite might not only have to espouse different beliefs but they
also have to live the life those beliefs imply. A person who joins a
religious order because of the security and comfort it provides, even
though they have reservations about god, have to live the life of the
order if they expect to stay with the order for a long time.

This long term view of hypocrisy suggests that hypocrisy is a more
sophisticated strategy than lying. Earlier I said that a rational
hypocrite would try to benefit from their hypocrisy. Maybe hypocrisy is
a rational and sophisticated form of cheating in a world we have built
for us based on rational and complex ideas.

Maybe what the lie was for the cave man, hypocrisy is to the city dweller.

Take care


from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Hypocrisy (the
beauty of)

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