The Project Gutenberg eBook, A Lie Never Justifiable, by H. Clay Trumbull
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Title: A Lie Never Justifiable
Author: H. Clay Trumbull
Release Date: January 4, 2004 [eBook #10591]
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A LIE NEVER JUSTIFIABLE
A Study in Ethics
H. CLAY TRUMBULL
That there was need of a book on the subject of which this treats, will be evidenced to those who examine its contents. Whether this book meets the need, it is for those to decide who are its readers.
The circumstances of its writing are recited in its opening chapter. I was urged to the undertaking by valued friends. At every step in its progress I have been helped by those friends, and others. For much of that which is valuable in it, they deserve credit. For its imperfections and lack, I alone am at fault.
Although I make no claim to exhaustiveness of treatment in this work, I do claim to have attempted a treatment that is exceptionally comprehensive and thorough. My researches have included extensive and varied fields of fact and of thought, even though very much in those fields has been left ungathered. What is here presented is at least suggestive of the abundance and richness of the matter available in this line.
While not presuming to think that I have said the last word on this question of the ages, I do venture to hope that I have furnished fresh material for its more intelligent consideration. It may be that, in view of the data here presented, some will settle the question finally for themselves—by settling it right.
If the work tends to bring any considerable number to this practical issue, I shall be more than repaid for the labor expended on it; for I have a profound conviction that it is the question of questions in ethics, now as always.
H. CLAY TRUMBULL.
A QUESTION OF THE AGES.
Is a Lie Ever Justifiable?—Two Proffered Answers.—Inducements
and Temptations Influencing a Decision.—Incident in Army Prison
Life.—Difference in Opinion.—Killing Enemy, or Lying to
Him.—Killing, but not Lying, Possibility with God.—Beginning of this
Discussion.—Its Continuance.—Origin of this Book.
Standards and Practices of Primitive Peoples.—Sayings and Doings of
Hindoos.—Teachings of the Mahabharata.—Harischandra and
Viswamitra, the Job and Satan of Hindoo Passion-Play.—Scandinavian
Legends.—Fridthjof and Ingeborg.—Persian Ideals.—Zoroastrian Heaven
and Hell.—"Home of Song," and "Home of the Lie."—Truth the Main
Cardinal Virtue with Egyptians.—No Hope for the Liar.—Ptah, "Lord
of Truth."—Truth Fundamental to Deity.—Relatively Low Standard
of Greeks.—Incidental Testimony of Herodotus.—Truthfulness of
Philoctetes.—Roman Standard.—Cicero.—Marcus Aurelius.—German
Ideal.—Veracity a Primitive Conception.—Lie Abhorrent among Hill
Tribes of India.—Khonds.—Sonthals.—Todas.—Bheels.—Sowrahs.—
East Africans.—Mandingoes.—Dyaks of Borneo,—"Lying Heaps."—Veddahs
of Ceylon.—Javanese.—Lying Incident of Civilization.—Influence of
Spirit of Barter.—"Punic Faith."—False Philosophy of Morals.
Principles, not Rules, the Bible Standard.—Two Pictures of
Paradise.—Place of Liars.—God True, though Men Lie.—Hebrew
Midwives.—Jacob and Esau.—Rahab the Lying Harlot.—Samuel at
Bethlehem.—Micaiah before Jehoshaphat and Ahab.—Character
and Conduct.—Abraham.—Isaac.—Jacob.—David.—Ananias and
Sapphira.—Bible Injunctions and Warnings.
Importance of a Definition.—Lie Positive, and Lie Negative.—Speech
and Act.—Element of Intention.—Concealment Justifiable, and
Concealment Unjustifiable.—Witness in Court.—Concealment that is
Right.—Concealment that is Sinful.—First Duty of Fallen Man.—Brutal
Frankness.—Indecent Exposure of Personal Opinion.—Lie Never
Tolerable as Means of Concealing.—False Leg or Eye.—Duty of
Disclosure Conditioned on Relations to Others.—Deception Purposed,
and Resultant Deception.—Limits of Responsibility for Results of
Action.—Surgeon Refusing to Leave Patient.—Father with Drowning
Child.—Mother and Wife Choosing.—Others Self-Deceived concerning
Us.—Facial Expression.—"A Blind Patch."—Broken Vase.—Closed
Shutters in Midsummer.—Opened Shutters.—Absent Man's Hat in
Front Hall.—When Concealment is Proper.—When Concealment is
Wrong.—Contagious Diseases.—Selling a Horse or Cow.—Covering
Pit.—Wearing Wig.—God's Method with Man.—Delicate Distinction.—
Truthful Statements Resulting in False Impressions.—Concealing
Family Trouble.—Physician and Inquiring Patient.—Illustrations
Explain Principle, not Define it.
THE PLEA OF "NECESSITY."
Quaker and Dry-goods Salesman.—Supposed Profitableness of Lying.—Plea for "Lies of Necessity."—Lying not Justifiable between Enemies in War-time.—Rightfulness of Concealing Movements and Plans from Enemy.—Responsibility with Flag of Truce.—Difference between Scout and Spy.—Ethical Distinctions Recognized by Belligerents.—Illustration: Federal Prisoner Questioned by Confederate Captors.—Libby Prison Experiences.—Physicians and Patients.—Concealment not Necessarily Deception.—Loss of Reputation for Truthfulness by Lying Physicians.—Loss of Power Thereby.—Impolicy of Lying to Insane.—Dr. Kirkbride's Testimony.—Life not Worth Saving by Lie.—Concealing One's Condition from Robber in Bedroom.—Questions of Would-be Murderer.—"Do Right though the Heavens Fall."—Duty to God not to be Counted out of Problem.—Deserting God's Service by Lying.—Parting Prayer.
CENTURIES OF DISCUSSION.
Wide Differences of Opinion.—Views of Talmudists.—Hamburger's
Testimony.—Strictness in Principle.—Exceptions in Practice.—Isaac
Abohab's Testimony.—Christian Fathers not Agreed.—Martyrdom Price
of Truthtelling.—Justin Martyr's Testimony.—Temptations of
Early Christians.—Words of Shepherd of Hermas.—Tertullian's
Estimate.—Origen on False Speaking.—Peter and Paul at