Of recent I've been dabbling a bit into the philosophy of lying and the one thing I've discovered is that everyone seems to have a completely different definition for the word "lying."
In Mark Twain's [b:On the Decay of the Art of Lying|1803982|On the Decay of the Art of Lying|Mark Twain|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1339170763s/1803982.jpg|1803184] he discusses lying as an art form and defines lying as anything that is not the truth. Twain argues that there is an art to lying and that people do, and indeed should, lie at the right times so long as it benefits others. I, for the most part, agreed with what Twain said.
In Oscar Wilde's [b:The Decay of Lying|637963|The Decay of Lying|Oscar Wilde|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348927287s/637963.jpg|1439639] the subject of lying in
art is discussed and I can't really comment on just how much of it I agreed on but it was definitely fascinating. The definition for lying here was similar to Twain's though a tad more focused and instead deals with how all art needs to have lies in order to be considered art.
In Sam Harris' short e-book he says that no one should lie ever and that everyone would be better off in turn. Pretty much contrasting Twain's argument completely. Except Sam Harris' definition for lying is "to intentionally mislead others when they expect honest communication." Well, that changes things. With that definition in mind Sam Harris' doctrine becomes less different from Twain's, though still a good distance apart.
Due to these varying definitions I've come to agree with all these writer's ideas to some extent or the other no matter how different they are from each other. I found value in each one and I think anyone would do good by reading either.
The conclusion I've come to, for the time being, is that I will commix each writer's thoughts, no matter how hypocritical it may be, into one of my own. I will make use of Twain's suggestion to lie so long as it benefits another without any harm to anyone, and I will also take Harris' advice to try and be honest at all times (especially with those I'm close with) save for when Twain's way seems more ideal. Mmkay?