“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves from other people that in the end we disguise ourselves from ourselves.” La Rochefoucauld
Lying is certainly a common vice, but lying to oneself is much worse because insincere & hypocritical behavior becomes a virtue and the lies we tell ourselves become legitimate. Our self-esteem is a bottomless wellspring for self-deception, which prevents us from accepting the crass desires behind our virtuous actions and keeps our vanity in disguise. We are all vain; we enjoy looking at ourselves, but because we’re also corrupt, we don’t like what we see. Thus we resort to self-deception and indulge our vanity without facing the truth.
If Desmosthenes says “the easiest thing of all is to deceive one’s self,” then how can we avoid such easy mistake? If we’re all corrupt and we’re all innately vain, then how is deception escapable? Do we just move from one form of bad faith to the next without ever breaking the chain?
Perhaps not permanently, but the pretense to not have a choice in anything is an outright denial of your humanity. You always have a choice, even if it is the choice to not choose. A choice made in good faith is a glimpse through the veil of self-deception, a brief glimpse of a permanently changing reality.
If self-deception is the pendulum between good faith and cynicism, then sincerity is the pendulum between self-deception and hypocrisy. As long we realize the ambiguous nature of reality and self-reflection, and reject excuses and complacency, we will be honest with our own self-deception. This might indeed be the most difficult of all vices, because we are the easiest person to fool and the hardest person to be honest with.