Saturday, January 12, 2013

Lying by Sam Harris

A friend on Facebook recommended this book - and posted the link to the (then) free pdf. I downloaded the book with the hopes of reading it some day. As this category - hope to some day - describes too many books/things in my life, it says something that I managed to read the whole book.

The book itself is short - about 50 pages - which makes it inherently readable and something one can read through on a train ride or several lunch breaks. The topic, lying, is also of interest today, especially as we have often become a culture of nice, in which insignificant lies seem inevitable. Harris challenges, rightly I think, whether lies, insignificant or not, are appropriate.

As a Christian, I believe lying is categorically wrong, even nice lies. Harris provides in his book a more sociological reasoning for why lying is wrong. Ultimataely, he argues that lying is unfair to others. It is done out of our own selfishness and not out of goodwill for others. After all, if someone really does look fat in a dress, doesn't it help her more to honestly say that so that she doesn't buy it and continue to look bad in it - or so that she considers losing weight? Of course, it needs to be done tactfully - but even a "thanks for the present, I don't think this is my style" can be done tactfully. After all, isn't that more tactful than disappointing the person because they never see you wear it?

The book is worth picking up and thinking about. I think it would also make a good book for a discussion group. If you'd like to borrow my copy, let me know and I'll send it to you.

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