Monday, December 11, 2006

NogaNote: On Hypocrites and other fawning popinjays

What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core. - Hannah Arendt

The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that's also a hypocrite!
Tennessee Williams

A man who moralises is usually a hypocrite, and a woman who moralises is invariably plain. - Oscar Wilde

I'm warming up for writing a piece on hypocrisy. I am kind of puzzled and even intrigued by hypocrites. They appear quite tenacious, holding on to their hollow shells (which make a lot of noise when banged from the inside) especially when they are found out and exposed. Which means that they really have no shame. Which is, in my opinion, a moral defect. I think this is what lies at the heart of Hannah Arendt's judgment of the sin of hypocrisy.

Arendt, as befits her secular personality, calls it a vice. For Dante, it is a sin.

Dante reserved one of the deepest, vilest circles in hell for the hypocrite, whom he considered the person who does most harm to society. Montaigne agrees with him.

More on that, later.


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