Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER IX: Of Casting Away Mendacity - The Spiritual Physick
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CHAPTER IX: Of Casting Away Mendacity - Rhazes, The Spiritual Physick 
The Spiritual Physic of Rhazes, trans. Arthur J. Arberry (London: John Murray, 1950).
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Of Casting Away Mendacity
This is another evil disposition which is due to the provocation of passion. When a man loves authority and domination in whatever form and under whatever circumstance, he wants always to be the one to teach and give information, because that gives him an advantage over the recipient of such tidings. Now we have already remarked that the intelligent man ought not to liberate his passion when he fears that this may afterwards involve him in worry, pain and regret; and we find that lying involves the liar in precisely these consequences. For the chronic and habitual liar is bound to be exposed; he can hardly escape it, either because he contradicts himself through carelessness or bad memory, or because someone he is talking to knows that the facts are contrary to what he states. The liar can never obtain anything near so much pleasure and enjoyment in lying, though he should lie all his life, much less equal, the worry and disgrace and shame at being exposed, even on one occasion in the whole of his career, and despised and held up to the ridicule and contempt and disapprobation of his fellows, who are likely to be little inclined to rely on him and trust him thereafter; provided of course he has some self-respect, and is not utterly base and abandoned. But such a creature as the latter ought not to be reckoned as a man, much less be made the object of discourse aimed at his reformation.
Because the means of exposure in this matter may sometimes be very late in coming, the ignorant man is liable to be led astray in this; but the intelligent man does not plunge himself into a course when he fears (or does not feel secure against) its involving him in disgraceful exposure; rather does he make his dispositions and resolve himself prudently to avoid that.
There are two varieties, as I see it, of untruthful information. In one kind the informant has in view some seemly and commendable object which will clearly excuse him when the facts are discovered and prove to the advantage of the person informed, obliging him to tell the story in the way he has even though there is no truth in it. For example, if a man knows that a certain ruler is resolved upon executing a friend of his upon the morrow, but that when the morrow is over the ruler will come into possession of certain facts obliging him not to kill his friend. If therefore he comes to his friend and tells him that he has hidden some treasure in his house, and requires his assistance the following day; if he then takes him home with him and keeps him busy there all that day, plying him to dig and search for the treasure, until the day is past and the king comes into possession of the said facts, and he then tells his friend the whole truth of the matter—I say that that man, even though in the first place he tells his friend what is entirely untrue, is nevertheless not to be blamed, neither is he exposed to shame when the facts are discovered to be contrary to his account of them, since his object was seemly and respectable, and of advantage to the person receiving the information. Such examples of untruthful information as these involve the informant in no disgrace or blame or regret; on the contrary, they bring him gratitude and seemly approbation.
As for the second variety which lacks this commendable purpose, there discovery certainly means disgrace and blame—disgrace, if the person informed suffers no harm whatsoever, as for example when a man tells his friend that he has seen in such-and-such a city a certain animal or precious stone or plant of such-and-such a kind and description, and there is no truth at all in what he says, the liar’s object being merely to provoke admiration in the other; or blame, if his information brings harm to his informant into the bargain, as for instance when a man tells his friend that the ruler of a remote land desires and yearns for his company, and he is confident within himself that if he takes horse and proceeds thither he will secure from him a certain place and rank, but he only acts as he does in order to get possession of something the other leaves behind, and then, his friend having taken the trouble to ride off and come at great labour to that ruler’s court, he discovers that there is not an atom of truth in the whole story, and finds to boot that the ruler is angry and enraged against him, and he is ruined.
All the same it is better to call a man a liar, and to avoid and beware of him, if he lies not out of necessity nor with any important object in view; for if a man approves of lying and indulges in it for mean and worthless ends, it is all the more likely and probable that he will do so when he has large and important advantages in view.