On Bullshit–Harry G. Frankfurt

On Bullshit

Harry G. Frankfurt

 

This groundbreaking work explores the philosophical meanings of bullshit, why there is so much around and how it differs from other sorts of untruths.

Frankfurt argues that bullshitting is not the same thing as lying, but both are an abuse of the truth. In his words,

“It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.”

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