Wed, Oct 08, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Man attempts experiment of not lying for one 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 (The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs), a year of saying “yes” to everything (Yes Man by Danny Wallace, soon to be a Jim Carrey film) 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 information-technology 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 the book’s profits.

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?’

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