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A philosophical analysis of bullshit

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Who says that there are non-philosophical subjects? Here are the first two paragraphs of a paper written by Harry G. Frankfurt (Cambridge University) – “On Bullshit” (see Harry G. Frankfurt, “The Importance of What We Care About – Philosophical Essays”, Cambridge University Press, 1988, pp. 117-133):

“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry.

In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, we have no theory. I propose to begin the development of a theoretical understanding of bullshit, mainly by providing some tentative and exploratory philosophical analysis. I shall not consider the rhetorical uses and misuses of bullshit. My aim is simply to give a rough account of what bullshit is and how it differs from what it is not – or (putting it somewhat differently) to articulate, more or less sketchily, the structure of its concept” (p. 117)

Written by Andrei Stavilă

Ianuarie 15, 2008 la 1:45 pm

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