The word hypocrisy originates from Greek compounds hypokrites, hypokrisis, which relate to an actor playing a part on the stage1(actor, pretender, dissembler) . The word we’ve received is a metaphor intermingled with a religious-moralistic hue.
The Hippocratic oath also emerges form these roots. Presumably Hippocrates’ had an ancestral connection with drama.
Even Jesus, patron saint of turning-the-other-cheek, had nothing nice to say about the Pharisees. For their entrenched cultural or racial predilection toward hypocrisy he tarred the whole group with invective. In contemporary times this would be considered scandalous. But there are no records of cries of “not all Pharisees!”.
Thus hypocrisy is considered one of the worst of human failings.
Below is a short thesis, written as a counterpoint to the view of hypocrisy, which Jesus, Mohammed, and so many more of us seem to hold (if less rigidly), the view that hypocrisy prevents moral progress in human affairs: Hypocrisy enables vice at the expense of virtue.
This attitude is based on the lofty ideal, that acting virtuously in all our activities, even in private doing what was right, works to make the world a better place.
But what about the possibility that hypocrisy serves a positive function for civilisation?