Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire


Falsity, properly speaking, is the contrary to truth; not intentional lying.

It is said that there were a hundred thousand men destroyed by the great earthquake at Lisbon; this is not a lie — it is a falsity. Falsity is much more common than error; falsity falls more on facts, and error on opinions. It is an error to believe that the sun turns round the earth; but it is a falsity to advance that Louis XIV. dictated the will of Charles II.

The falsity of a deed is a much greater crime than a simple lie; it is a legal imposture — a fraud committed with the pen.

A man has a false mind when he always takes things in a wrong sense, when, not considering the whole, he attributes to one side of an object that which belongs to the other, and when this defect of judgment has become habitual.

Falseheartedness is, when a person is accustomed to flatter, and to utter sentiments which he does not possess; this is worse than dissimulation, and is that which the Latins call simulatio.

There is much falsity in historians; error among philosophers. Falsities abound in all polemical writings, and still more in satirical ones. False minds are insufferable, and false hearts are horrible.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01