What Is Hypocrisy?

What Is Hypocrisy?

What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one.

- Hannah Arendt, On Revolution

Podcast of the Day

What's wrong with hypocrisy? The Philosopher's Arms, everyone's favourite abstract pub, is back with a pint and a philosophical conundrum. This week, presenter Matthew Sweet is joined at at the bar by philosopher Lisa Bortolotti and political scientist David Runciman. Plus human rights activist, Peter Tatchell, who in the past has publicly exposed people whom he has accused of hypocrisy.

Listen to The Philosopher's Arms episode on Hypocrisy

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

A generation ago, the philosopher Judith Shklar at Harvard argued that hypocrisy is one of the ordinary vices. By mimicking virtue, Shklar pointed out, the hypocrite tacitly acknowledges and helps to maintain the moral order in public, even as he betrays it privately. Indeed, the hypocrite can even be congratulated for refusing to tolerate any outright infractions of this order. Precisely because it is so commonplace, hypocrisy rarely assumes any real political importance.

On occasion, however, the problem of hypocrisy takes on a spectacular role in politics. Now is such a time; hypocrisy is making a lot of people very angry.

Continue reading Faisal Devji's short article: Beyond right and wrong, beyond fact or fake, lies sincerity

Further Reading

I wanted to damage every man in the place, and every woman—and not in their bodies or in their estate, but in their vanity—the place where feeble and foolish people are most vulnerable.  So I disguised myself and came back and studied you.  You were easy game.  You had an old and lofty reputation for honesty, and naturally you were proud of it—it was your treasure of treasures, the very apple of your eye.  As soon as I found out that you carefully and vigilantly kept yourselves and your children out of temptation, I knew how to proceed.  Why, you simple creatures, the weakest of all weak things is a virtue which has not been tested in the fire.  I laid a plan, and gathered a list of names.  My project was to corrupt Hadleyburg the Incorruptible.  My idea was to make liars and thieves of nearly half a hundred smirchless men and women who had never in their lives uttered a lie or stolen a penny.

Continue Reading Mark Twain's wonderful short story: The Man that Corrupted Hadleyberg

Related Topics

 Authenticity | Honesty | Testimony

Each day I post short quotes by great thinkers on a particular philosophical, scientific or historical topic, along with videos, interviews and articles by contemporary thinkers that explore each topic in more detail. Find me on Facebook or Twitter or enter your email below to learn about the ideas that helped shape our world.

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