Hypocrisy is the false claim to virtue. It always refers to consciously intended deception by a person in a position of trust. Making use of literary examples, the investigation starts with the delineation of three readily apparent preconditions for falling prey to hypocrisy. Idealization of the hypocrite is seen as a defense against a dread of uncertainty on the part of the person who succumbs to hypocrisy. The addition of a third precondition, the force of powerful desire, completes the introduction.
A selective review of historical and philosophical studies of hypocrisy over the past twenty-five hundred years situates the problem of the susceptibility to hypocrisy. Must idealization lead to credulity I do not think so. Belief, even strong belief, need not be credulous, and idealization, though it always involves some substitution of wish for judgment, is not always used as a defense. But when idealization and belief are fueled by anxiety, independent judgment, fragile under the best of circumstances, may fail. So idealization as defense against the dread of uncertainty may be expected to create the credulity that is one precondition for successful hypocrisy. But unrelenting credulity may come about also from great desire, especially in those inclined to magical thinking and other immaturities
of consideration by playwrights and philosophers, a ...Show more