Saturday, October 11, 2014

On Bullshit By, Harry G. Frankfurt

On Bullshit

 By, Harry G. Frankfurt

Princeton University Press; 1 edition Print ISBN-13: 978-0691122946

Paperback $8.96

A Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman


This book came recommended to me by a friend. I had caught someone in a lie and well my friend quickly humbled me. We immediately had a discussion on why people lie and how honest is the world we’ve created around ourselves? How often do I tell lies or tell bullshit? Nevertheless, I am so grateful that this book was suggested to me.  Harry G. Frankfurt writes with a strong conviction, subtle humor, and had me inwardly pondering the wisdom in his novel, On Bullshit.

Special thanks to Alan McCluskey for photos
The book begins with Frankfurt explaining the difference between what is and is not bullshit. This is thought provoking and a bit tongue and cheek. I was immediately captivated with this quote,  “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.”   

References are made with the definition from the Oxford English Dictionary, quotes by Saint Augustine, and Wittgenstein. Frankfurt continues to show how both the liar and those bullshitting are gaining through their behavior. 

Yet, it is important as what their intentions are with the act. This is followed by if it is a conscious act of deception or independent to a concern for truth.

My favorite quote to ponder was,

 “Telling a lie is an act with a sharp focus. It is designed to insert a particular falsehood at a particular point in a set or system of beliefs, in order to have that point occupied by the truth. This requires a degree of craftsmanship, in which the teller of the lie submits to objective constraints imposed by what he takes to be the truth. The liar is inescapably concerned with truth-values. In order to invent a lie at all, he must think he knows what is true. And in order to invent an effective lie, he must design his falsehood under the guidance of that truth.” 

This is rather brilliant because lies/truth values can be carried over to the world of politics, education, relationships, and much more. It had me the reader wanting to discuss the book with others and expand on the ideas that Frankfurt had initiated. 

I was very disappointed on the length of the book. I wanted more and felt the topic could go further.  The price point was appropriate and the cover was lack luster.  As a reader this book would make a great book club discussion, college course lecture, and bring about much debate. I did find On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt an above average read and it provided much enjoyment. 

Harry G. Frankfurt is a professor of philosophy emeritus at Princeton University. His books include The Reasons of Love; Necessity, Volition, and Love; and The Importance of What We Care About. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.


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