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On Bullshit [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Harry G. Frankfurt
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10. Januar 2005
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. 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, as Harry Frankfurt writes, 'we have no theory'. Frankfurt, one of the world's most influential moral philosophers, attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all. Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

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  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 80 Seiten
  • Verlag: Princeton Univers. Press (10. Januar 2005)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0691122946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691122946
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,3 x 11,3 x 1,1 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.5 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (6 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 34.323 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit," Harry G. Frankfurt writes, in what must surely be the most eyebrow-raising opener in modern philosophical prose. "Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted." This compact little book, as pungent as the phenomenon it explores, attempts to articulate a theory of this contemporary scourge--what it is, what it does, and why there's so much of it. The result is entertaining and enlightening in almost equal measure. It can't be denied; part of the book's charm is the puerile pleasure of reading classic academic discourse punctuated at regular intervals by the word "bullshit." More pertinent is Frankfurt's focus on intentions--the practice of bullshit, rather than its end result. Bullshitting, as he notes, is not exactly lying, and bullshit remains bullshit whether it's true or false. The difference lies in the bullshitter's complete disregard for whether what he's saying corresponds to facts in the physical world: he "does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are."

This may sound all too familiar to those of use who still live in the "reality-based community" and must deal with a world convulsed by those who do not. But Frankfurt leaves such political implications to his readers. Instead, he points to one source of bullshit's unprecedented expansion in recent years, the postmodern skepticism of objective truth in favor of sincerity, or as he defines it, staying true to subjective experience. But what makes us think that anything in our nature is more stable or inherent than what lies outside it? Thus, Frankfurt concludes, with an observation as tiny and perfect as the rest of this exquisite book, "sincerity itself is bullshit." --Mary Park


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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10 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A well-fertilised discussion 9. Dezember 2005
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
My first surprise about this book (other than the title, which I cannot add to this review due to the propriety involved) is its brevity. Given the vastness, at least in potential, of the subject matter, the book could fill volumes. Of course, the author Harry Frankfurt might argue that there are indeed already volumes and volumes of balderdash. He states at the beginning that 'One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much', er, humbug. 'Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share.'
Frankfurt claims that the issue has not attracted sustained inquiry (he obviously has not been part of the committee meetings I've attended in the past few decades). This book, or rather booklet, is more of a brief essay or primer on the subject, looking at the issue from a linguistic standpoint as well as conceptual framework. There are many synonyms that come close; words such as humbug and balderdash (already used in this review) approximate the title term. Quoting Max Black's essay, 'The Prevalence of Humbug', Frankfurt suggests other closely related words such as claptrap, hokum, drivel, and such. Drawing from the OED definitions, he analyses the key elements of humbug, including misrepresentation just short of lying, elements of pomposity and pretentiousness (loosely applicable), and a possibility of embodiment in feeling or in thought.
Frankfurt also explores the issue of the title term in relation to an incident between Ludwig Wittgenstein (whose philosophical work reaches great heights in clarity and precision, particularly with regard to language and locution) and Fania Pascal. Wittgenstein's substitute term for the title term might have been 'nonsense', and he was diligent at working against such forms of language that might fall into disarray.
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7 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen What a bullshit! 19. Oktober 2006
Von Markus
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
For a couple of books I really wonder why they are receiving 4 or 5 stars even they are flat, boring, un-imaginative. Maybe people reading them still did not find the real good books. "On bullshit" is one of the weakest books I ever read in my life. Un-inspriring and meaningless. What others call a hilarious flow of ideas is in my eyes empty talk without having any clue what he is writing about. The author is even proud about not having a scientific background and not being able to speak another language. You don't have to have a scientific background but then don't try to be scientific. And if you want to write a funny novel, try to be funny. This book left me empty handed. The book goes on about Wittgenstein for 10 pages and then that guy and then this guy and you ask yourself: what is this about. But the book achieves one goal: it shoes you what bullshit is: the book itself. And making you buy it is bullshitting you. It is even below the standard of "The world is flat" and selling it together with an excellent book like "How Mumbo-Jumbo conquered the World" could be called and insult to that book.
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6 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Great little book, 18. März 2006
Von Ein Kunde
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
After reading several pages of On Bs, it had breathes reminders of G.K. Quest. However, Frankfurt does not present an intense study on bs, but rather flowingly writes in a way where he is thinking and writing as he goes along to what may have a connection with the subject of bs. He philosophizes on just about every subject where bs may have occurred, such as history and politics, and a limitless array of other interconnected ideas that relate bs to objectivity.
Frankfurt writes an insightful essay on the subject of bs. This little ditty of a book is not at all difficult to comprehend if one was reading it for the mere sake of pleasure, and not for the purpose of seriously analyzing every word he says. On the other hand, if one wants to engage in serious discussion on the philosophical and critical aspect of the book, this is indeed the book for that purpose.
When it comes down to the subject of bs, Frankfurt simply states its meaning through out the book and especially at the end. And after reading the final sentence, questions may still arise, and bs has been accomplished. Regardless, On Bs is a great pocket book to carry around and re-read again. You should also check out Giorgio Kostantinos' masterpiece~~The Quest, a great novel inspired by Da Vinci Code.
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