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Summa Theologica
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Whether hypocrisy is contrary to the virtue of truth?

Objection 1: It seems that hypocrisy is not contrary to the virtue of truth. For in dissimulation or hypocrisy there is a sign and a thing signified. Now with regard to neither of these does it seem to be opposed to any special virtue: for a hypocrite simulates any virtue, and by means of any virtuous deeds, such as fasting, prayer and alms deeds, as stated in Mat. 6:1-18. Therefore hypocrisy is not specially opposed to the virtue of truth.

Objection 2: Further, all dissimulation seems to proceed from guile, wherefore it is opposed to simplicity. Now guile is opposed to prudence as above stated (Q[55], A[4]). Therefore, hypocrisy which is dissimulation is not opposed to truth, but rather to prudence or simplicity.

Objection 3: Further, the species of moral acts is taken from their end. Now the end of hypocrisy is the acquisition of gain or vainglory: wherefore a gloss on Job 27:8, "What is the hope of the hypocrite, if through covetousness he take by violence," says: "A hypocrite or, as the Latin has it, a dissimulator, is a covetous thief: for through desire of being honored for holiness, though guilty of wickedness, he steals praise for a life which is not his." [*The quotation is from St. Gregory's Moralia, Bk XVIII.] Therefore since covetousness or vainglory is not directly opposed to truth, it seems that neither is hypocrisy or dissimulation.

On the contrary, All dissimulation is a lie, as stated above (A[1]). Now a lie is directly opposed to truth. Therefore dissimulation or hypocrisy is also.

I answer that, According to the Philosopher (Metaph. text. 13, 24, x), "contrariety is opposition as regards form," i.e. the specific form. Accordingly we must reply that dissimulation or hypocrisy may be opposed to a virtue in two ways, in one way directly, in another way indirectly. Its direct opposition or contrariety is to be considered with regard to the very species of the act, and this species depends on that act's proper object. Wherefore since hypocrisy is a kind of dissimulation, whereby a man simulates a character which is not his, as stated in the preceding article, it follows that it is directly opposed to truth whereby a man shows himself in life and speech to be what he is, as stated in Ethic. iv, 7.

The indirect opposition or contrariety of hypocrisy may be considered in relation to any accident, for instance a remote end, or an instrument of action, or anything else of that kind.

Reply to Objection 1: The hypocrite in simulating a virtue regards it as his end, not in respect of its existence, as though he wished to have it, but in respect of appearance, since he wishes to seem to have it. Hence his hypocrisy is not opposed to that virtue, but to truth, inasmuch as he wishes to deceive men with regard to that virtue. And he performs acts of that virtue, not as intending them for their own sake, but instrumentally, as signs of that virtue, wherefore his hypocrisy has not, on that account, a direct opposition to that virtue.

Reply to Objection 2: As stated above (Q[55], AA[3],4,5), the vice directly opposed to prudence is cunning, to which it belongs to discover ways of achieving a purpose, that are apparent and not real: while it accomplishes that purpose, by guile in words, and by fraud in deeds: and it stands in relation to prudence, as guile and fraud to simplicity. Now guile and fraud are directed chiefly to deception, and sometimes secondarily to injury. Wherefore it belongs directly to simplicity to guard oneself from deception, and in this way the virtue of simplicity is the same as the virtue of truth as stated above (Q[109], A[2], ad 4). There is, however, a mere logical difference between them, because by truth we mean the concordance between sign and thing signified, while simplicity indicates that one does not tend to different things, by intending one thing inwardly, and pretending another outwardly.

Reply to Objection 3: Gain or glory is the remote end of the dissembler as also of the liar. Hence it does not take its species from this end, but from the proximate end, which is to show oneself other than one is. Wherefore it sometimes happens to a man to pretend great things of himself, for no further purpose than the mere lust of hypocrisy, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 7), and as also we have said above with regard to lying (Q[110], A[2]).

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