Inconstancy (aka Hypocrisy)

Finn Karsten posted in Channel McGilchrist highlighting a post he’s written. (It’s their first and only blog post – I don’t know any more about the author – search reveals it’s quite a common name.)

Who Are We : Inconstancy

Woke or anti-Woke – as I always say – “a pox on both their houses“. They’re two extremist sides of the same coin – a naive wokeness to what appears “right” or “wrong”. From whichever side you approach cancel culture it’s not right.

Whichever fundamental philosophical question we start from we get to “And what is good, Phaedrus?” Virtue(s) of the person and/or the methods of discourse in which we engage. Sceptical critical thinking is one tool, but as I’ve said many times, I prefer (all forms of) dialogue get a look in. I’ve written a lot about rules of engagement, but finding the positive intent in the other is the first priority.

But the point of this “Inconstancy” post is obviously that even people with positive intent are imperfect, imperfect in our actual actions and discourse, even if perfect in virtuous intent. Karsten points out that we often hold-up hypocrisy – inconsistency in action and argument – as a cardinal sin. Of course as Brunsson pointed-out hypocrisy is essential, the ability to hold or change conflicting views across levels and contexts … is a virtue.

The sin is bad faith.

2 thoughts on “Inconstancy (aka Hypocrisy)”

  1. I agree that mere humans are (as Auden wrote) the inconstant ones. It may well be, if you believe in value pluralism, that it cannot be any other way. But I prefer, with Nagel, to characterise the social face of this of this as one of the necessity of concealment rather than hypocrisy. In order to rub along civilly, we must conceal thoughts, motives and reasons. Often we do this this the best and most altruistic of intentions. To suggest that this is the equivalent of hypocrisy is, I think, too harsh and cynical a judgement.

  2. Absolutely. You’ve maybe heard me say “Transparency is overrated”.
    There’s a time and a place for each communication, until then some things are best left silent.

    (And I would agree we could use more subtle definitions / usages of the words so that hypocrisy was used only when there was bad faith involved. But that broad vs narrow use of labels is precisely my “good fences” agenda.)

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