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On Bullshit

On Bullshit

Harry G. Frankfurt

It’s the one book – not counting by MacBook, that is – that I have in my living room, always close at hand. It’s a small book, beautiful on this outside, sharp on the inside, that I come back to every couple of months. Now seems an appropriate time to recommend it to anyone how hasn’t read it yet. Here’s one of the key passages, apropos of nothing:

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 picks them out, or makes them up to suit his purpose.



Published in Weekly Filet #225
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