Wednesday, 26 September 2007

On hypocrisy

“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, On Revolution (1963), ch. 2 .

But, as Freud points out in Civilisation and its Discontents, hypocrisy is correlative with civilisation; all of us who live in the polis are hypocrites in this sense. It’s as if Arendt has lighted upon her own formulation of the idea of original sin

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