Moral Incoherence, Cognitive Dissonance
Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 30, 2011
“Evil deeds do not make an evil person. Otherwise we would all be evil. If evil people cannot be defined by the illegality of their deeds or the magnitude of their sins, then how are we to define them? The answer is by the consistency of their sins. While usually subtle, their destructiveness is remarkably consistent. This is because those who have “crossed over the line” are characterized by their absolute refusal to tolerate the sense of their own sinfulness.”
— M. Scott Peck, “People of the Lie”
Today I had the experience of seeing someone who up until two weeks ago I’d thought of as incorruptible tell an ignoble, pathetic lie even as the evidence exposing the lie was there for all to see. The lie involved pretending that this person did not commit certain reprehensible actions which were recorded, in black and white, at the start of the discussion.
The sadder thing is that even without the evidence in black and white, I had other evidence to hand showing that the lie was a lie — evidence the person who made the lie and the initial actions denied by the lie doesn’t know I possess.
The person in question knows that the lie and the actions it denied were wrong, and that the position this person is promoting is morally indefensible. Which would explain why this person ran away from the discussion, and in fact the list holding it, rather than continue to defend what this person knows to be wrong. In a way, that’s a good sign: If the person were truly evil, there would have been an attempt to brazen it out.
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