Secrets

“Secrets,” by Sissela Bok.

I recently read SECRETS, by Sissela Bok. She writes with the skill of a
philosopher and with the concern to actually do some good that is common to
most everyone except many philosophers. She distinguishes secrecy from
privacy. She distinguishes good secrets from bad ones. She defends the need
for privacy and secrets in several convincing ways, including some surprising
ones such as the need for surprise, but in an unconvincing way as well. She
appeals to the lessons of Orwell’s 1984, claiming that the protagonist Winston
Smith was persecuted for secrecy and threw his life away because he wanted
secrecy that badly. (In a footnote in another context Bok describes
confessions thus: “The sin . . . may not always lie in what has been hidden,
but rather in the hiding itself.

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