I have been thinking lately about the question of intellectual honesty. In particularly in the context of religion. a long time ago now, I listed to a video of Richard Dawkins about religious belief. He was saying that religious people were fundamentally dishonest. That if they really thought about it, they would have to admit that there is no divine and that religion is a lie. It ringed true for me. I didn’t really believed when I was a kid but it was easier for me to say that I did instead of being honest and saying that I didn’t. I was making a compromise. To avoid annoying conversations, I choose to be dishonest in a way. The problem with these kind of compromises is that they spill out and contaminate other areas of life.
When you accept dishonesty in one part of life, it is easier to accept it in other parts. If you keep lying about things that sound small to you, you end up with a huge mass of small lies, culminating into a veil of self-deception. You end up not being able to tell the difference, in your own mind, between what you believe and what you do not believe. It is because you try to reconcile in your mind the new information you take in with the false information you created.
The mind doesn’t work in isolation. The feedback of others is important to determine how we perceive ourselves. Thus, when you lie about a small thing, you have to keep up the lie the next time that thing is mentioned and so, when you are alone, when you don’t have to lie anymore, you have gotten used to the false narrative and it becomes harder to actually know what you think.
Being honest and uncompromising about what you believe is essential, not just for social interaction but also for introspection. To achieve self-knowledge and self-mastery, you have to know what you believe, what is true in your mind and be honest about the way you react. Since we are constantly changing and evolving, we have to be constantly on the look out for self-deceptive words coming out of our own mouth.