A Language of Deception

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"It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I'm looking for the truth,' and so it goes away. Puzzling." The irony of Robert Pirsig touches on the strange encounter of self-deception. I know the truth and you do not; I intentionally hide the truth from you—this is the lie. But with this understanding of deception, how then, is self-deception possible? Does one know the truth about something and then, simultaneously, hide the truth from one's self? How could this be: what makes it possible for a single person to be both deceived and deceiver? Nietzsche makes self-deception a reality through the error of truth. Like Pirsig's puzzling drive for truth, it is Nietzsche's drive for truth that actually facilitates self-deception. In On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense, Nietzsche's treatment of truth supports this dichotomy of belief and actually breaks down the classical definition of the lie. In doing so, self-deception becomes possible and no longer fits into the guise of lying; error becomes all; self-deception becomes reality. There are two dichotic trends taking place at the same time: a will to ignorance and a will to knowledge. "There is no drive toward knowledge and truth, but merely a drive toward belief in truth. Pure knowledge has no drive (95)." This distinction being made is important for the possibility of self-deception, for it undermines the binary of being truthful to one's self or deceiving one's self. "…what they hate is basically not deception itself, but rather the unpleasant, hated consequences of certain sorts of deception." It is not truth or deception in itself that is the concern; rather, it is the consequences of truthfulness and deception. In the case of the liar, he is shunned for the negative consequences of his lies, not the lies themselves; and "it is in a similarly restricted sense that man now wants nothing but truth: he desires the pleasant, life-preserving consequences of truth (81)."...
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