FALSEHOOD enjoys the particular abhorrence of moralists, and it is in very truth more offensive than other forms of evil, much as cowardice is less tolerable than brutality, calculating selfishness than frank and passionate rapacity. The reason is that it betrays weakness of will in addition to moral poverty.
But precisely because falsehood is among the most serious of moral errors, it is well to understand and define it clearly. For if we confuse it with other kinds of actions which are not censurable in themselves, the disgust we feel for it is likely to lose something of its force (I realise that conscience is a very delicate instrument, and for its part never makes mistakes which abstract thinkers find it so difficult to avoid).
A first mistake, of a theoretical nature, would be to define falsehood as failure to tell the truth. Thus defined, exceptions and res-