Summed up here, though, it basically talked about the rationalizations we live by (from the title of a recent book about same) and how we use them to justify ourselves to the rest of the world. The authors of the book suggest that an excuse is a lie we tell to others; a rationalization is a lie we tell ourselves. To wit:
- Everybody does it.
- I'll save even more if I buy nine of these.
- After a crummy day like this I deserve these shoes.
- You only live once.
- He'll only spend it on liquor.
- Einstein had a messy office.
- If God didn't want us to eat baby sheep, He wouldn't have given us mint jelly.
Basically, it's what psychologists call "self-justification bias", which refers to the decisions or beliefs we arrive at for emotional reasons and which we support or defend by cherry picking data that supports what we're saying.
"As Socrates declared, 'the shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what you would appear to be.'"
I do it all the time. But, like those new shoes (or whatever I've used to try and make myself feel better) the comfort of the justification only lasts so long.
Darn that Socrates!