MIDWAY: Truthful, for a year
The philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that telling lies was always morally wrong. But is it possible to live without telling a single lie for a whole year? That is the task that Cathal Morrow has set himself and he will let us know next year if it is possible, when he has finished
his book on the experiment, to be called The Complete Kant.
We’ve already had an experiment in living according to Old Testament strictures, a year of saying “yes” to everything and a year of living without electricity. But trying not to tell a lie is even more ambitious than any of those, isn’t it? Honestly? Morrow, 42, used to be the managing director of an IT recruitment company.
He quit his job seven years ago to write a novel about a photocopier salesman who is perfecting a formula for finding his true self. Despite appreciative initial responses, he never found a publisher. Recently married to an artist and with two small children to support, he hit on the idea of a philosophical exploration of the notion of truth.
Unable once more to find a publisher, he had a novel idea: put a synopsis of the book on the European social networking site A Small World, seeking backers who would finance him for a year’s writing in exchange for half of the profits of the book.
A private equity company responded and has now agreed to finance him for a year. There is no written contract.
“The Complete Kant is about truth and honesty, so I felt there was no need to complicate things with contracts,” said Morrow, who lives with his family in Madrid. He admits that his task is not easy.
First, there was the test of not lying to his four-year-old son, Borja. “He’s always asking me things like ‘Where does Father Christmas live?’” Another difficulty, he says, “is when people ask, ‘Am I boring you?’
My mother in particular has a tendency to witter on about how the world has changed for the worse.
“Much harder, however, is the realisation of how much I lie to myself, and what a tenuous grasp I have of the notion of truth,” Morrow admits. Since his first chapter is now online, you can let him know how you think he’s doing so far. Being perfectly honest, of course.