Lying about the Self

Augustine, Confessions 10.3

“What is left for me, then, with other people so that they may listen to my confessions as if they would heal all my problems? We are a species desperate to know about other people’s lives but negligent in fixing our own. Why do those who do not want me to say who they are want to ask me who I am?

When they hear from me directly about myself, how can they know whether I speak truly when no one knows what moves another person except for the spirit that moves within them? Yet, if they hear about themselves from you, they cannot say, “The Lord lies.” Since, what is hearing about ourselves from you apart from knowing oneself? Truly, who understands this and says “this is untrue” except for someone who lies.”

(3) Quid mihi ergo est cum hominibus, ut audiant confessiones meas, quasi ipsi sanaturi sint omnes languores meos? curiosum genus ad cognoscendam vitam alienam, desidiosum ad corrigendam suam. quid a me quaerunt audire qui sim, qui nolunt a te audire qui sint? et unde sciunt, cum a me ipso de me ipso audiunt, an verum dicam, quandoquidem nemo scit hominum quid agatur in homine, nisi spiritus hominis qui in ipso est? si autem a te audiant de se ipsis, non poterunt dicere, “mentitur dominus.” quid est enim a te audire de se nisi cognoscere se? quis porro cognoscit et dicit, “falsum est,” nisi ipse mentiatur? 

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