The Five Buttresses of Jaminism (part 5): Honesty

Jaminism is a sincere and forthright religion of genuine self reflection and authenticity. It is laterally supported by five buttresses. The Five Buttresses of Jaminism are Journey, Perfection, Argumentation, Moral Growth, and Honesty. These guiding principles are the true path toward authentic Jaminism, until they are replaced by something else. In this article we’ll be revealing the nature of the Buttress of Honesty.

To the Jaminist, honesty is more than simply stating what is factually accurate. Rather, it is about presenting the information which most effectively communicates reality. Sometimes the most honest thing you can say is a lie.

For example, let’s take the statement “the sky is blue”.

Is that factually accurate? That depends on context. Firstly, for the majority of human history the culturally appropriate answer to that was no. The sky has only been blue conceptually for a relatively short space of time. Does the light that hits your eyeballs when you stare at a clear sky during the day tend to sit in a wavelength between 455-492nm*? Well, no. Even if we qualify that by only measuring visible light the majority of the light hitting our eyes when we look at a clear sky is violet because the shorter wavelengths are more widely dispersed through the atmosphere, but the relatively smaller quantities of blue light hitting out eyeballs is easier for our eyes to perceive so it creates a sense that were are looking at something blue. The gasses which form the sky aren’t blue tinted to cause the sky to be technically blue. So from a purely factual position the sky is not blue. A person who measures honesty by pure factual accuracy should therefore not say that the sky is blue but instead provide a lengthy explanation of light refraction and cultural attribution of colour any time the topic comes up. This is an efficient method of becoming utterly intolerable.

*455-492nm is the wavelength range of visible light which is generally accepted as “blue”.

The Jaminist therefore ascribes to a principle of contextual honesty. In this framework, an honest statement is the statement which most clearly communicates the information which is desired in a way which is usable by the recipient. As such, the honest size of the fish in the story about the one that got away is the size which creates the most compelling story. This is because in a story about nearly catching a fish, the contextual purpose of the story is not to provide an accurate report of catfish dimensions in a given body of water, but to engage an audience in an adventure which honestly portrays the emotional journey of almost landing a slightly above average size fish. If you have a fishing story involving a missed catch which is within the recommended weight range of the rod you were using then your story simply hasn’t been retold enough times.

The foundational principle here is that honest communication is communication which is consistent with the goals of the interaction. The truthful answer to “can you pass me the salt?” may well be “yes I can” whereas the honest response is to treat the question as a request and pass the condiment. On this point though, it is not strictly dishonest to respond to a goal of having you perform a service with a conflicting goal of your own. If you have been asked “did you mow the lawn?” and you respond in the affirmative because you have at some point in time mowed the lawn, but not in the implied timeframe then this is a truthful yet dishonest answer if the context is to respond to a request or to inform as to the state of the lawn. If the contextual goal is an attempt at humour then honest communication would dictate that this context be understood by all parties at some point in the interaction.

In some contexts, honest communication can take the form of silence. If a Jaminist is being detained by police they may choose to communicate an honest desire to avoid self incrimination by refusing to answer questions which could later be used to discredit them, at least until they have been able to consult with their lawyer. There is nothing inherently deceptive in the practice of refraining from comment until you have sufficient information to form a coherent and honest response.

The Buttress of Honesty isn’t only about communicating with other people. The Jaminist also aims for contextual self honesty. For purposes of motivation, taking responsibility for your own life challenges can be helpful in producing a drive to change you circumstances. This does not require it to be empirically true to be pragmatically functional as a belief. Believing you can do anything you put your mind to is also a motivating belief which is demonstrably untrue. Sometimes it is simply beneficial to allow yourself to hold untrue belief as true for a time in order to benefit from the belief.

Sometimes acknowledging that something negative which has happened to you is not your fault and that you did not do anything to deserve it is necessary for being able to find peace and move on with your life. Once again, the truth of the belief does not impact its therapeutic value.

It is therefore possible that the most beneficial philosophy for a healthy mental life is to accept that things do happen for which you can accept no responsibility but that you are also responsible for everything that happens in your life. Rather than simultaneously hold contradictory views, the Jaminist applies personal honesty; maintaining an understanding of their own personal responsibility which supports their progress towards a desired goal.

Honesty, therefore, is the process of determining which model of truth is appropriate to the situation and applying that truth in an authentic and consistent way.

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