Mar 07 2007

On Bullshit

Published by at 7:15 am under Books

Harry G Frankfurt

This ‘book’ is really an essay packaged between two little ‘hard covers’ which contain 63 small pages, and the author is, or was, a philosophy professor.

The book contains an analysis of the usage of the word bullshit in comparison to humbug and lies. It concludes that the key characteristic of bullshit is a disregard for the truth (“indifference to how things really are”). As compared to a lie which at the least reflects a belief as to what is true, bullshit floats free of any relationship to truth. Truth or falsity doesn’t matter to the speaker.

It is also noted that “Bullshit is commonly the result when circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about” as in politics or in a business meeting. A lot of truth there which explains much political and business bullshit. Someone one is put in a position where they must say something that sounds intelligent. Truthful or not is unimportant. Just say something that “sounds” relevant and acceptable to the audience.

It has been a long time since I read anything so explicitly philosophical with care and analysis applied to the meaning of words and how they are being used. Kind of fun, but I don’t want to read too much of philosophy as it tends to make me go around in mental circles.

A nice short read.

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.