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Amber's Thoughts

Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series

 

 

No BS: This is a Work of Philosophy

On Bullshit - Harry G. Frankfurt

I agree with the author that there is a difference between bullshit and lying, and that bullshit is in some ways more harmful. There isn’t a better or more expressive word for it, and he analyzes the effectiveness of this word’s imagery well. One reason I wanted to read this book is because my college students occasionally attempt to bullshit their way through papers about books they haven’t read. They don’t say anything that relates directly to the assigned reading, yet they blather about related themes without claiming that they read it or admitting that they didn’t. It’s classic bullshit: short of lying, short of truth, with no regard for what the truth might be. The book is solid in its analysis of this phenomenon right up until the end. In his discussion of sincerity, Frankfurt stops citing other philosophers or concrete explanatory examples, making assertions about certain types of skepticism and the belief that only one’s self can be known, without adequate support and clarification. Expanding this section would have made the book longer, but that would hardly be a flaw in something this short and would have given more weight to the amusing final line. I am as yet undecided whether or not to use this as required reading in next year’s freshman seminar, but I’m leaning toward it, in case it would reduce the students’ production of academic bullshit.