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On Bullshit
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A gem of psychological insight, social commentary, philosophical analysis, and good humor. This is the work of an extraordinarily acute, attentive, and versatile philosopher who has succeeded in addressing an audience comprised of both other philosophers and the general public on a topic of considerable human interest in a characteristically wry and engaging way. It is one of the most enjoyable and humanly illuminating short pieces of philosophy produced in the past fifty years. -- Raymond Geuss, University of Cambridge The most audacious of the ancient alchemists desired to transmute lead into gold. They never succeeded. Who would have known that they should have started not with a base metal, but with bullshit? Harry Frankfurt offers a philosophical analysis of bullshit that is golden. The prose by turns employs irony, broad humor, and tongue-in-cheek high seriousness while at the same time manages to have a rigorous logical coherence that is always impressive. One leaves the essay not merely thinking it was a delight. One leaves it realizing that one has engaged the accomplishment of a great analyst and thinker. -- William Chester Jordan, Professor of History, Princeton University

About the Author

Harry G. Frankfurt is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton University. His books include "The Reasons of Love" (Princeton), "Necessity, Volition, and Love", and "The Importance of What We Care About".

Reviews

Winner of the 2005 Bestseller Award in Philosophy, The Book Standard "[Frankfurt] tries, with the help of Wittgenstein, Pound, St. Augustine and the spy novelist Eric Ambler, among others, to ask some of the preliminary questions--to define the nature of a thing recognized by all but understood by none... What is bullshit, after all? Mr. Frankfurt points out it is neither fish nor fowl. Those who produce it certainly aren't honest, but neither are they liars, given that the liar and the honest man are linked in their common, if not identical, regard for the truth."--Peter Edidin, New York Times "The scholar who answers the question, 'What is bullshit?' bids boldly to define the spirit of the present age... Frankfurt's conclusion ... is that bullshit is defined not so much by the end product as by the process by which it is created. Eureka! Frankfurt's definition is one of those not-at-all-obvious insights that become blindingly obvious the moment they are expressed."--Timothy Noah, Slate "Immediately, I must say: read it. Beautifully written, lucid, ironic and profound, it is a model of what philosophy can and should do. It is a small and highly provocative masterpiece, and I really don't think I am bullshitting you here."--Bryan Appleyard, The Sunday Times (London) "This is what the world has long needed... Bullshit is now such a dominant feature of our culture that most of us are confident we can recognize and rebuff it. But Frankfurt shows the reader just how insidious (and destructive) it can be... This book will change your life."--Leopold Froehlich, Playboy "Frankfurt's book should be required reading for anyone whose speech or writing are intended for public consumption. Despite his subject, he is definitely not full of it."--Kevin Wood, The Daily Yomiuri "On Bullshit offers a tightly focused, telling critique of a political and cultural climate that seems positively humid with mendacity, obfuscation, evasion and illusion."--Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle "There is an interesting problem sketched at the end of the book, wherein sincerity is described as an ideal for those who do not believe that there is any (objective) truth, thus departing from the ideal correctness... Needless to say, there are numerous problems which may be expanded, looked into and analyzed concerning bullshit. And I dare say that Frankfurt's little book is a nice starting point."--Petter A. Naessan, Philosophy Now "[On Bullshit's] calm, clearheaded deconstruction of everyday deceit is without parallel."--Gordon Phinn, Books in Canada "With its relevance to contemporary issues and culture, On Bullshit is well worth the read... The analysis is strict and philosophical with the clear intention of seeking the truth."--Karen Boore, The Michigan Review "Harry Frankfurt, a Princeton philosophy professor, presents a scholarly and formal essay on inflated truth, purposeful obfuscation, and pretentious duplicity... I'm sure he had a blast writing it, and the droll prose is a tasty treat."--Richard Pachter, The Boston Globe "Professor Frankfurt concludes that bullshit is a process rather than an end product... If you are fed up with hype, spin and bullshit this book will provide insight - and therapy."--Australian Doctor "Terrific... Has anything truer ever been written?"--William Watson, Montreal Gazette "If you want to read a succinct, stylish piece of argument that will make you think far beyond the points it makes, you could do no better than invest ten dollars on Professor Frankfurt's handsomely bound essay."--Christopher Jary, British Army Review

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