Thursday, September 6, 2012


The noble lie is a concept originated by Plato as described in The Republic. However, the concept has far greater scope and has been used by many commentators to talk about much more modern issues in politics.

Plato’s ‘Noble Lie’, albeit arguably a notion of ideological propaganda, is often where the debate begins concerning ‘expertise’. Plato did not believe most people were clever enough to look after their own and society’s best interest, so the few ‘clever’ people of the world needed to lead the rest of the flock. Therefore, the idea was born that only the elite should know the truth in its complete form and the rulers, Plato said, must tell the people of the city ‘The Noble Lie’ to keep them passive and content, without the risk of upheaval and unrest.

Strauss noted that thinkers of the first rank, going back to Plato, had raised the problem of whether good and effective politicians could be completely truthful and still achieve the necessary ends of their society. By implication, Strauss asks his readers to consider whether it is true that noble lies have no role at all to play in uniting and guiding the people.

Aristotle believed that politics should be a noble pursuit to which ethics is an introduction. The last chapter of the Nicomachean Ethics states “Since then our predecessors have left this matter of legislation uninvestigated, it will perhaps be better ourselves to inquire into it, and indeed into the whole question of the management of a state

Is it ok to lie to make people feel good about something, like the economy?



ARISTOTLE WAS a cynic. Sure, the Bible exhorts to “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” but he knew better. “The friendly feelings that we bear for another,” instructed his Ethics, “have arisen from the friendly feelings that we bear for ourselves.”

Does Biology Make us Liars?

Chromodynamix said...

Otherwise know as a knobble lie!