For Sabina, living in truth, lying neither to ourselves nor to others, was possible only away from the public: the moment someone keeps an eye on what we do, we involuntarily make allowances for that eye, and nothing we do is truthful. Having a public, keeping a public in mind, means living in lies.
I know, brother, that you are a straightforward man, and that you pride yourself on it. But put one question to yourself: in fact should one tell the truth? What obliges us to do it? And why do we consider telling the truth a virtue? Imagine that you meet a madman, who claims that he is a fish and that we are all fish. Are you going to argue with him? Are you going to undress in front of him and show him that you don't have fins? Are you going to say to his face what you think? Well, tell me!'His brother was silent and Edward went on: 'If you told him the whole truth and nothing but the truth, only what you really thought, you would enter into a serious conversation with a madman and you yourself would become mad. And it is the same way with the world that surrounds us. If I obstinately told a man the truth to his face, it would mean I was taking him seriously. And to take something so unimportant seriously means to become less than serious oneself. I, you see, lie, if I don't want to take madmen seriously and become one of them myself.
is the statement of an intellectual who underrates toothaches. is a truth much more universally valid, and it applies to everything that's alive. My self does not differ substantially from yours in terms of its thought. Many people, few ideas: we all think more or less the same, and we exchange, borrow, steal thoughts from one another. However, when someone steps on my foot, only I feel the pain. The basis of the self is not thought but suffering, which is the most fundamental of all feelings. While it suffers, not even a cat can doubt its unique and uninterchangeable self. In intense suffering the world disappears and each of us is alone with his self. Suffering is the university of egocentrism.
vivre dans la vérité, ne mentir ni ? soi-même ni aux autres, ce n'est possible qu'? la condition de vivre sans public. Dès lors qu'il y a un témoin ? nos actes, nous nous adaptons bon gré mal gré aux yeux qui nous observent, et plus rien de ce que nous faisons n'est vrai. Avoir un public, penser ? un public, c'est vivre dans le mensonge (partie III, ch. 7)