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You Can Always Find Friends if You are Willing to Lie to Them

As a corollary you can always find a place which will accept you and satisfy your need to belong, if you are willing to lie to the group, and support its communal self-deception and amour propre.  You can tell a group that runs on self-deception by how intent it is on policing language and guarding against offense.   If a group announces that offense is a crime, they send the message: we do not want truth here.

And yet — should we not regard this puritanical commitment to truth at the cost of love and human community with a certain skepticism?  One of the uses of language is to form larger wholes out of smaller atoms, or perhaps more accurately, are not the individual human atoms ontologically posterior to a whole that is formed from human practices, linguistic and otherwise, that are deeper than true or false because without them we cannot have the practices of calling something true or false?

A philosopher once said “Nobody can offend me.  Because what he says is either true in which case I thank him, or false in which case I ignore him” whereupon his interlocutor slapped him in the face.  The philosopher, if he is to stick to his position must make a profound withdrawal from human commonality with his slapping dialogue-mate.   Otherwise if he slaps back or forgives he has asserted the fundamental bond.

You can find human bandmates who will trade trust for lying.  Even better is to find a human bond strong enough for any truth.  If you find that you have found something better than a lover, you have found a fellow-adventurer.  The truest duty of a friend is reproof.

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26 thoughts on “You Can Always Find Friends if You are Willing to Lie to Them

  1. Slapping is speaking?

    I would think that words are essentially the make believe/hypothesis forming staging ground before actual actions are taken. Slapping seems to have gone right to actual actions.

    Besides, I think we all have our in group tendencies. Yeah, I know, you’ll run into some group and if you don’t support their fiction just right they get quite nasty. Especially if you happen to refer to it as a fiction. But I think just like monopoly involves the group believing the pretend money is real money (heh, with ‘real money’ being a make believe act to begin with), you can have groups who recognise what they want is their fiction supported. Board games are a clear example of this.

    Did you run into some group who clearly had their own pet habits but saw them as fundimental truths – and they got nasty toward you and you had to vent a blog post on it? I’ve definately been there! lol 🙂

    • Mikey says:

      I think the girl who slapped the philosopher – this was someone who was offended by what he’d said. She was offended and she wanted to communicate that offence and part of what offended her was that the philosopher had said no words could offend him. So she tried to communicate it through a slap. Perhaps after his cruel words she thought to herself “I would rather you had slapped me”.

      • So, could I show my offence by picking up a gun and shooting someone?

        Or would some say that has left the realm of speaking? That speaking and conversation do not involve that?

      • But I was only speaking! You didn’t prosecute me when I spoke before?

        Why draw a distinction if physical violence is a legitimate part of speaking?

      • Consider the difference between, say, going out and saving a cat from a tree Vs telling the story of saving a cat from a tree. You wouldn’t say you are ‘telling a story’ when you actually rescue the cat – instead you are actually doing somthing! Nor would you, by telling the story, think you are actually saving some cat.

        So why does a slap somehow remain in the realm of speaking rather than enter the realm of doing something?

      • Then you’re saying there is no difference between making sound waves with one’s mouth and pulling the trigger on a gun.

        Was the philosophers point that any act, even if was being shot, he would not be offended? Really?

        I mean, when he says ‘Because what he says is either true in which case I thank him…’ – how can a bullet be ‘true’?

        How can a slap be ‘true’?

        When it makes no sense to say a slap is ‘true’, how can it seem that was what he was talking about? Or do we just not care?

        This is possibly one of the ways we claw ourselves slightly above the animal – that raw threat of or execution of violence cannot just be ‘true’ in itself.

        Or perhaps we slip into argumentum ad baculum?

      • The philosopher was talking about what is true or false. Perhaps just tell him there’s an ‘outside the true or false’? Which I guess is a little like beyond good and evil.

      • it is impossible to communicate without acting but you often act without communicating. the speech-act might or might not cause harm or have other features that cause a society to want to criminalize or restrict it in some way. Perhaps it is too loud for example or it is accomplished by digging giant ditches in other people’s property. In democratic free societies we believe that except in very rare cases (e.g. Nazi speech in Germany) we shouldn’t criminalize or restrict speech based on content. I am not arguing with that principle.

      • it is impossible to communicate without acting but you often act without communicating.

        So why call the slap the former? Is it some semantic sleight of hand – while we’ve finally shut the philosopher up with a slap, we can pass it off as being communicating by acting, rather than acting without communicating? Because he’s too busy reeling to argue otherwise…we’ll just tell ourselves it was communication? Micro form of history is written by the victors?

      • Otherwise if he slaps back or forgives he has asserted the fundamental bond.

        Actually I guess it figures, us passing off violence as bond. Hazing, for example.

        Forgiveness can actually be entirely icy. Only the forgiven fool might think he is left with a bond.

  2. Mikey says:

    The truest duty of a friend is reproof? That’s an interesting idea. I googled “truest duty of a friend” and the only person in the entire internet who has written that phrase is you, so I guess that’s unanimous. Imagine if everyone took that really seriously though. I could see that being a bit tiresome. Isn’t it nicer that some people think the truest duty is empathy and some think it’s loyalty and some think it’s tolerance and some think it’s devotion and such and such?

    • I think it was like Cicero or some other serious old ancient person? The idea is that my highest goal is to be a really good person, so the best thing my friend can do for me is let me know when I fail to meet my goal. The trouble from this way of thinking with tolerance empathy and so on is that such friends can be travelling companions to Hell. Or worse — flatterers.

      • Mikey says:

        That’s true, but then the converse might be true too. The worst kind of fundamentalist religious sects are full of people who are desperate to reprove each other in an effort to direct themselves all away from heaven, and while it’s coming from a nice place you can see from a distance that they’re all going to Hell too. So. I’m not sure what the point is. I’m personally more like to be a reprover than a flatterer, but I know that also makes me kind of a dick a lot of the time.

      • well the ancient aristocrats were sort of dicks by our standards; they were very self-confident, successful, powerful snobs. They would only accept as a friend somebody with a similar degree of mastery and self-confidence — maybe they viewed life as sports and saw friendship as something like our institution of “work out buddy”. So I think they were less worried about having their buzz harshed by envious or well-meaning downer associates. For us modern people with more self-doubt it’s a limited slogan. maybe the duty of a friend is love or to help us expand into our true selves. what do you think the duty of a friend is?

      • Mikey says:

        Hm, don’t know. I think it’s nice that there are different people who treat friendship as different things. That way you hopefully have the right person around at the right moment. But I liked that bit about Dennie Devlin or whatever he was called – about how he could tell people off but say it as a joke so it didn’t hurt too much. That’s a clever trick. But is it real?

  3. I was talking about whether it is rational to feel offense. Of course some ways of expressing offense are criminal or unacceptable for other reasons. If I express my offense by dumping toxic waste I run afoul of environmental regulations for example

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