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Yours, honestly.

So, what is honesty after all.
A promise to be true to oneself?
Or, to be truthful with others?
Or, both?

What is being true to oneself, after all.
Ensuring that your mental model of reality is a good one? Ensuring that you have not told yourself a different story than the one you perceived? Ensuring that your sensory inputs are stronger than your imagination? Ensuring that your memory of your sensory inputs is stronger than your imagination and your utopian memory?

What is being truthful with others, after all.
Being true to oneself, and,
Ensuring that you “communicate” your mental model of reality?

Is being truthful with others implicitly tied to your ability to communicate (Ashwatthama is dead)? Isn’t language a contract? Doesn’t the contract assume honesty thus making the definition circular?

As a corollary, can a deaf, mute and blind man be honest? Does a deaf, mute and blind man think about dishonesty and honesty?! What mental model of the world does he have? Will we ever know?

  1. Maitreyee
    June 13, 2009 at 4:11 am

    Honesty, like many other virutes or qualities, is relative. A lot depends on the person in question, the people that person is associated with, environment, topic under discussion, etc. etc.

    • June 13, 2009 at 2:37 pm

      True that, honesty is relative etc. However, I was looking at a more absolute definition of honesty.

  2. June 13, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    This is a really very interesting post. So much so, that at this point, my sleep-addled brain is pretty convinced honesty is a skewed concept if its only conditional.

    I always assumed honesty was plain old simple telling it like it is. Not fooling oneself about the truth and of course, not misleading others about it and so on. But of course, I never put it to myself like that.

    If one is physically incapable of communicating falsehoods, then one is physically incapable of dishonesty, too. Wow!

    • June 13, 2009 at 2:38 pm

      “If one is physically incapable of communicating falsehoods, then one is physically incapable of dishonesty,”

      One is still capable of twisting the truth in one’s head.

      Also interesting to consider is what happens under duress, are people honest when tortured for example?

  3. June 19, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Aristotelian truth: To say of something which is that it is not, or to say of something which is not that it is, is false. However, to say of something which is that it is, or of something which is not that it is not, is true.

    Tarskian truth: “P” is true if, and only if, p.

    (where p abbreviates, in the metalanguage, the proposition expressed by the sentence “P” of the object language.)

    For example,

    “Snow is white” is true if and only if snow is white.

    • June 19, 2009 at 1:09 pm

      If you believe that p, then saying “P” is being honest.

  4. June 23, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Hi Mohit!

    Nice dissection of intuitive concepts!

    I for one, would never consider truthfulness in isolation. Perceiving, acknowledging, communicating truth (as you’ve so well defined) is just one component of honesty. Honesty would also entail not suppressing relevant facts (truth), and volunteering them when deemed appropriate.

    Honesty, in turn, is part of broader concept, viz., morality, which in my opinion, has basic intent as an important factor. Truth may also be at odds with morality and/practicality on occasions.

    My posts–‘My morality’ and ‘A Moral Brainteaser’ have somewhat touched upon these issues.

    Take care.

    • June 25, 2009 at 2:29 pm

      Hi panchalkc!
      Thanks for your comments.

      I did stop by your blog but haven’t read those two posts yet. Will do so one of these days!

      Thanks for the link love šŸ˜‰

  5. June 23, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    BTW, I’ve added you to my blogroll. šŸ™‚

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