Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: "On Bullshit" by Harry G. Frankfurt

"On Bullshit" by Harry G. Frankfurt is a short book less than 70 pages long.  It is a small book (4x6).  You can carry it in your pocket.  It can be read in about an hour at a leisurely rate.  The format is thus appropriate for its content.  I got it from the public library.  Bullshit does not deserve a long treatment.  It's not like it is lying.  The person bullshitting obviously has something to gain.  Although the author generally discusses more interesting cases of bullshit, it does not really touch on how much bullshit is just being driven by insecurities.  Truth is irrelevant to bullshitting.  A liar obscures the truth, but at least recognizes its existence.  Politicians and the media are full of bullshit.  Lies are relatively easy to catch.  Bullshit must be put through a sieve if one is to separate truth from lies.  In a sense, if not an actual lie, propaganda may or may not be bullshit.  The effort required to sort it all out is exhausting.  So it can be accepted or ignored.  (Of course, ignoring bullshit is a type of acceptance.)  Absent a positive response, you can call it out for only so long before ceasing to care.  Insincerity is sincerity to those not knowing better.

Read this book.

One thing I learned from the book: Wittgenstein did not apparently understand hyperbole.  (Too much logic perhaps?)

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