Truth and Beneficial Lies

Class Forums Government 2017-2018 Assignment 1 Truth and Beneficial Lies

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    • #1151

      michael
      Participant

      I will be discussing truth and the beneficial lie as they pertain to justice as described in the first three chapters of Plato’s Republic. In the Republic, Socrates argues that the just do not willingly tells lies and that the gods, knowledgeable of everything, “are wholly free from lie” (Republic 61). Later on, however, he introduces the idea of a beneficial lie, a lie formed by the leader for the general good. Even later, he says that there is a beneficial lie that the just city must include. At the base of Plato’s supposedly just city is a lie.

      His first assertion that “all gods and humans hate the true lie” (Republic 60) seems to contradict his later claim that beneficial lies can be just, but it does not. He states that everyone “most hates” the lie, but nowhere does he claim that all lies are unjust. When he readdresses the topic the second time, he says that, “a lie is useless to gods but useful to men as a remedy” (Republic 67). Thus he claims it can be just if used as a means to general good.

      Socrates hesitates to implement the idea of a beneficial lie into the making of the just city. Although it may seem as though he thinks it possibly unjust, he is simply hesitating because of his earlier assertion that men hate lies. The lie that he proposed would consist of two parts, one to promote loyalty and another to ensure the social structure did not collapse over time. Socrates proposing this lie implies that those problems which it mends are deep flaws in his model of justice that are only mendable if the whole city believes an untruth. As a Christian, I can believe that certain truths can be withheld our knowledge for good, as stressed in Paradise Lost; but can we accept that justice must be built on not only lack of truth but also a intentional lie.

    • #1202

      wgshort
      Participant

      I am going to disagree with your essay, Michael. Throughout the Bible, it is clearly evident of God’s view on lies. Proverbs 12:22A illustrates this point, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.” Our Father despises deception because it is an action that mirrors the behavior of Satan, the Father of Lies. God intended to create a perfect world, where everyone would always act justly. It was a lie that caused the fall of mankind, a lie that brought separation between us and the Lord, a lie that led to injustice.
      Without an intentional lie, true justice in a city is unachievable. In my opinion, justice must be built on the lack of truth. Since the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin became part of our human nature, and therefore it exposes itself in the foundations of our society.

    • #1215

      Uh…  This is going to be confusing given Graham’s dissagreement, but I felt that you were saying lies were bad – especially in the last line (which is either really awkward or needs a ‘?’).

      So here is my official homework disagreement:

      Lies, killing, and grief won’t have a place in the second Earth[1], but in this imperfect world those things are sometimes necessary.  Many times the Israelites waged war by God’s command.  John tells us that “Jesus wept” and Paul tells us to “Mourn with those who mourn.”[2]  Lies won’t be used in the second Earth, but here they are sometimes necessary.  Rahab lied to save the Israelite spies, Jonathon lied to save David[3] and Corrie Tin Boom lied to save the Jews in here house.  Lying is not something to make a habit of; only certain people should be lied to at certain times.

      [1] Revelation 21:4

      [2] John 11:35; Romans 12:15

      [3] 1 Samuel 20:28-29

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    • #1219

      luke
      Participant

      Hey Graham what about when Rahab lied… Elijah beat me to the punch

    • #1223

      michael
      Participant

      I’m sorry for the typo that lead to a misinterpretation of what I meant. The first half of the last sentence was supposed to say that I believed that knowledge can be withheld justly while the second half was supposed to leave the discussion open by asking if we as Christians can believe that justice must be built off of a lie. I agree with Elijah. We must distinguish  the purpose of a lie; if done for good, which is possible [see Elijah’s examples], a lie can be good. What I DO NOT agree with is that the ultimate model of justice MUST contain a lie; in the new earth there will be no lies nor need thereof.

      The “lying lips” that Graham quoted refers to the habit. Proverbs are general sayings not absolute truths; when quoted wrong, they can seem lead to wrong conclusions. The rest of Graham’s argument is built off of examples of bad lies but no matter how many examples there are the possibility of good is not logically completely ruled out, especially taking into account the examples of just lies given.

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