This topic was prompted by a daily radio guest show, “On Point”, hosted by Tom Ashbrook. The show began with…
“Everyone hates hypocrisy. But, hold on, says one philosopher, we’re all hypocrites. It’s part of being human. We all know hypocrisy when we see it. Say one thing, do another and you’re there. We condemn hypocrites and hypocrisy. Dante, in his Inferno, consigned hypocrites to the eighth circle of hell. And yet, if we’re honest, we can see what a crowded place that would be. Neuroscientists now say we are, as a species, hard-wired for some degree of hypocrisy. For self-deception. Cognitive dissonance. But that’s different than saying it’s okay. If we don’t resist hypocrisy, we’re in a big moral muddle. This hour On Point: the human capacity for hypocrisy, and just how deep it goes.” – Tom Ashbrook
Show Intro and listener blog comments (text):
Show (Podcast - hour): http://audio.wbur.org/download.php?url=http://audio.wbur.org/storage/2014/04/onpoint_0414_hypocrisy-harpers-humanity.mp3
The official guests’ oral comments on the podcast are recommended. Unfortunately, the listeners’ blog posts are of varied value. You’ll have to wade through and weed out those that are better categorized as political or social rants. But then, even those, sometimes, contain insights.
Harper's Magazine article by Clancy Martin, the philosopher guest on On Point: < http://harpers.org/blog/2014/03... >... starting at the middle of page 3 ("For Butler, the worse..."), he comments on evolutionary aspects of hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy < Wikipedia > - The claim or pretense of holding beliefs, feelings, standards, qualities, opinions, behaviors, virtues, motivations, or other characteristics that one does not in actual fact hold. It is the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another. In Moral psychology, it is the failure to follow one’s own expressed moral rules and principles. Evolutionary Note: Recent studies in Psychology have identified the evolutionary bases and the mental mechanisms of hypocrisy, tracing its roots to adaptations that serve contradictory functions in the human brain, and to cognitive biases and distortions that predispose humans to readily perceive and condemn faults in others, while failing to perceive and condemn faults of their own.
Cognitive dissonance < Wikipedia > - In psychology, the excessive mental stress and discomfort experienced by an individual who:
a. holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time
b. is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.
This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction.
Points in Podcast
1. In Moliere's Tartuffe (1664), Tartuffe, the hypocrite, concludes that everyone is practicing hypocrisy.
2. It is suggested that it is a "necessary evil" needed as a "lubrication of life" to facilitate getting along with each other.
3. It has been found that different parts of the brain process different types of issues and can form conflicting beliefs when issues overlap.
4. Are rationalization and irony different forms of hypocrisy? Socrates's feigned ignorance has been characterized as hypocrisy .
5. It seems that we are much more ready to identify hypocrisy in others than ourselves. Is this propensity a "self-esteem building" device (putting somebody down helps you to feel more superior)?
6. Modeling to kids, others? Say uncomplementary things about a person and then greet them as best friends...then chastise kids for lying.
7. Cognitive dissonance is noted.
8. It is suggested that the most insidious forms are those cases when we do not recognize it in ourselves. This can lead to "selective learning" with focus on ["cherry picking"] those "facts" that support one's preconceived belief.
9. Roxanne Roberts, a Washington columnist, finds the most insidious form in the political environment as cases that benefit the speaker/actor, irrespective of intentional or unintentional deception. [A Kantian or Rawlsian "veil of ignorance" requirement.]
1. Is hypocrisy something we should worry about? Why?
2. Does hypocrisy serve a useful purpose …or is it just a human reality?
3. How does it relate to one’s self or representation of self? Is it a "wannabe" representation?
4.Is hypocrisy conscious intentional deception of others, or is it just self-deception inadvertently voiced or shown to others?
5. Is ignorance an excuse?
6. Rationalization? Irony? Intolerance? Free riding? Instrumentalism?
8. Modeling? Do as I say, not as I do!
9. How does a politician present him/herself when facing a plurality of special interest groups? Would "I'll try my best to take both sides of these issues into account when legislating" persuade anyone, or must she/he promise that he/she will deliver specific outcomes"? Primary? Main election?
10. Writing a donation check - Is it the feeling of satisfaction of writing the check or the observation of the reaching of the goal for which the donation was intended?
11. Media drama...Citizens watch dog, reporters' drive for recognition, or competition for audience.