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Saturday, April 11, 2009


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It would be good for people to remember that there's a word for specifically religious hypocrisy, sc. "Tartuffery".

Hi Bill,

I have noted the particularly strong animus to hypocrisy on the left. I think it relates somehow to their dislike of all speak in stark value terms, like good and evil. Their preference is for the mushier sort of normative evaluation--progress, social justice, or what have you. (By the way, I'd really like to know what social justice is as it seems to me that all justice has to be social.)

A conjecture: hypocrisy is a weapon that can only be weilded against the stark values of the right. That's why its perceived to be so much worse for a "family value" conservative to be doing something seedy than for a "progressive." If you don't commit yourself to starkly defined values you're immune to this accusation. So the best strategy for a progressive is to insist that hypocrisy is cardinal sin #1.

A second conjecture: now that we have vacated ethics of all substance via expressivism, subjectism, relativism, non-cognitivism and nihilism (different brand names for the same malignant philosophy, I think)the only thing we've got left is the law of non-contradiction. Simon Blackburn's expressivist philosophy doesn't care what you express, just that you express it consistently. But why, I ask, must I be consistent? Is that not sneaking some cognitive content in? Why can't I happily express that I am a multitude of contradictions?

If I'm not mistaken, there have been failed attempts to base all of logic on the law of non-contradiction and these attempts have been unsuccessful. If that's so, then we have the basis for an argument from analogy suggesting that doing the same thing in ethics would be a mistake.


My Webster's gives 'hypocrisy' as a synonym of 'Tartuffery.' What is your source for saying that Tartuffery is a species of hypocrisy?


We basically agree on this topic. I too have trouble with 'social justice' and for the same reason as you. Plain old justice is good enough for me. Then there is 'economic justice' which is leftist code for coercive wealth redistribution by government, in plain English, injustice inasmuch as it involves penalizing the productive and rewarding the unproductive.

Only that "Tartuffery" is from Moliere's play "Tartuffe," whose main character is a particularly religious hypocrite of the televangelist type. I don't think anyone would use "Tartuffery" of, say, someone who praised and professed courage in battle but was actually a coward.

Hi, Bill.

The vice of hypocrisy is part and parcel of Leftist ideology because it is the gravest sin against Authenticity. Authenticity is the true self by whose dictates a man lives the good life. Traditional authority (king, church, family) oppresses the true self, especially because a man inculcates its dictates as a child. Thus, he is burdened with a false consciousness of himself, which only liberation from traditional authority and then re-education can save him.

Or so the Leftist would have us believe, starting with Rousseau. Maybe even earlier with the Protestant Reformation. (Of course, what Rousseau intended and the Left has successfully delivered is not what the early Protestants intended.)

Bill T


You are of course right about the origin of 'Tartuffery.' But if your claim is that it is actually used as a synonym for 'hypocrisy,' then I need a source. It is a lexicographical question. If, on the other hand, you are recommending that 'Tartuffery' be used to denote a species of hypocrisy, then it is a good suggestion.

Bill T,

I basically agree.

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