Self-love hates truth

The nature of self-love and of this human Ego is to love self only and consider self only. But what will man do? He cannot prevent this object that he loves from being full of faults and wants. He wants to be great, and he sees himself small. He wants to be happy, and he sees himself miserable. He wants to be perfect, and sees himself full of imperfections. He wants to be the object of love and esteem among men, and he sees that his faults merit only their hatred and contempt. This embarrassment in which he finds himself produces in him the most unrighteous and criminal passion that can be imagined; for he conceives a mortal enmity against that truth which reproves him, and which convinces him of his faults. He would annihilate it, but, unable to destroy it in its essence, he destroys it as far as possible in his own knowledge and in that of others; that is to say, he devotes all his attention to hiding his faults both from others and from himself, and he cannot endure either that others should point them out to him, or that they should see them.

. . . Man is then only disguise, falsehood, and hypocrisy, both in himself and in regard to others. He does not wish any one to tell him the truth; he avoids telling it to others, and all these dispositions, so removed from justice and reason, have a natural root in his heart. -Blaise Pascal, Pensées, #100

What Pascal called self-love and Ego, the Scriptures call pride. He offers no references but consider a few of the biblical proofs:

  1. Precisely because we hate attention being drawn to our imperfections, Proverbs is replete with appeals for us to receive discipline and instruction (Prov 1:7-8; 3:11; 6:23; 12:1; 17:10; 19:20).
  2. The natural desire to hide our faults from ourselves(!) and others explains the scarcity of confession in Christian fellowship, in spite of the commands and characterizations we find in Scripture (Prov 28:13; James 5:16; 1Jn 1:9 cf. Mark 1:5; Acts 19:18). Confession is the mortification of ego.
  3. Man’s desire to annihilate the truth is epitomized in the world’s hatred of Christ (Jn 7:7; 8:40ff).

Overcoming our aversion to truth is a conversion miracle out of which Christian fellowship flows (1Jn 1:6-7). Apart from this new life, Pensees #101 is axiomatic:

I set it down as a fact that if all men knew what each said of the other, there would not be four friends in the world.

‘We have all forgotten our names’

We have all read in scientific books, and, indeed, in all romances, the story of the man who has forgotten his name. This man walks about the streets and can see and appreciate everything; only he cannot remember who he is. Well, every man is that man in the story. Every man has forgotten who he is. One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God; but thou shalt not know thyself. We are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten what we really are. All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality and positivism only means that for certain dead levels of our life we forget that we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and art and ecstasy only means that for one awful instant we remember that we forget.

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

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