Born in 1966, Bettina Stangneth is an independent philosopher. She studied philosophy in Hamburg and wrote her doctorate on Immanuel Kant and radical evil. Her book Eichmann Before Jerusalem was awarded the NDR Culture Nonfiction Prize in 2011; the New York Times ranked it among the best books of the year. Rowohlt has most recently published her highly praised essays Thinking Evil (2015), Deciphering Lies (2017) and Ugly Sight (2019).
The hidden side of falsehood.
It’s a commonly held belief that everyone lies. But even those who sing the praises of the good, old-fashioned lie would hate to be caught lying or, even worse, be lied to. And even if we see lying as an essential part of life, or as a necessary practice endemic to our culture, we never feel comfortable with it. If we aren’t comfortable with something that we all engage in from time to time, what ethical problems arise?
The context here is that many people who like talking about morals often point the finger at everyone else. And it’s not surprising that liars fascinate us. The swindlers, the conmen, the populists that manipulate us like magicians and plan how to lead us astray, with lies being only one of their many tools. Lies are seen as a weapon only if they fall into the wrong hands. But is it really that simple? If we take a philosophical approach to lying, is it valid to restrict ourselves to ethics and politics? The philosopher Bettina Stangneth, who enthralled us with her startling reader Thinking Evil , uses this new book to examine further, more fundamental questions. What does lying tell us about how we think? Is knowledge an essential part of falsehood? And how do we access that knowledge?"