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Hardcover On Bullshit Book

ISBN: 0691122946

ISBN13: 9780691122946

On Bullshit

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 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...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Does no one get the joke?

After reading the reviews in this forum it is clear that virtually no one gets the point of "On Bulls!#t." Harry Frankfurt's "On Bulls!#t," which is a popular essay that has been reprinted as this little book, is one, big, brilliant, joke. And that's why it's so darn good. Unfortunately, it seems that most all reviewers, even those who have sung the book's praises, simply don't get the joke. This book is multilayered. It "works" on two levels. To simply look at this book on its face is to miss its entire point! "On Bulls!#t" is not the pedantic analysis of the concept of "BS" that it superficially presents itself as being: it is much more. Those reviewers who slam the little book, saying it is itself nothing but "BS," are getter warmer, getting closer to "getting" the joke, but alas, none of the reviews I've read here quite hit the nail on the head. Taken on its face, Frankfurt's "On Bulls!#t" is a witty philosophical analysis of the concepts of "BS," and "humbug," how they differ, how "BS" differs from a lie, and why it is a greater enemy of the "truth" than a lie is. "On Bulls!#t" works on two levels because, while Frankfurt is setting up what some may take to be a 70-page shaggy-dog story, he actually does have a few astute and important things to say, as when he argues that one of the reasons why there is so much BS out there is that in democratic societies most people feel it's their DUTY to have an opinion about virtually everything, including a great many things they know little-to-nothing about. This is unfortunate, for when the claims in one's orations exceed their supported and valid knowledge on the subject, BS is the natural result. Also interesting is when Frankfurt comments on those who deny the possibility of valid "objective" knowledge about the external world, and how this also results in relativistic "BS." Aside from being interesting to read, some of Frankfurt's arguments are just plain laugh-out-loud funny, as when he explains how hot air is like excrement, or when he analyzes the famous interaction between Pascal and Wittgenstein. With all this said, let us now return to the main point of this review: that all interesting passages aside, "On Bulls!#t" is actually one big joke played on the reader, as revealed by the little book's brilliant last line (I won't give it away). Only if one gets the joke will one get the important and powerful point of the book. Nothing Frankfurt actually SAYS in "On Bulls!#t" should be taken too seriously. Though the book is on its face a philosophical analysis of the concept of "BS," as many reviewers here have noticed, while analyzing the word, Frankfurt doesn't provide us with much more than a bunch of it. In other words, the book itself IS A BUNCH OF BS. The important point that so many reviewers have missed is that HE'S DOING IT ON PURPOSE; he's feeding us BS to make his point. Some philosophers, such as Wittgenstein, think that it's much more powerful to SHOW someone your point rather t

Insights Most Needed by the People Who Won't Read This Book

Harry G. Frankfurt, the author of this slight but thought provoking book, is a Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton University and a renowned moral philosopher. This is a serious discussion regarding the fact that bull---- occupies such a central role in much of the discourse which occurs in practically all facets of our culture, yet to the author's apparent chagrin this phenomenom "has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry". His goal is no less audacious than than "to begin the development of a theoretical undestanding of bull----, mainly by providing some tentative and exploratory philosophical analysis". In my opinion, this discussion admirably achieves that goal; it also provides wonderful insights into modern day communication. But do not be mislead by the title, while very interesting and quite enjoyable, this discussion is neither light reading nor lighthearted in nature. This book has three distinct attributes which I am certain in combination (and probably individually as well) make it unique among volumes which have appeared on the adult non-fiction best seller lists. First, the above mentioned fact that its author is a Philosophy Professor at Princeton University. Second, that it is published by the Princeton University Press, a definite indication that this is indeed a serious scholarly work. Third, that the complete text is only sixty-seven mini-pages in length. Thus, this is in fact only a moderately long essay undoubtedly meant to provoke both debate and further thought. There are four elements of Frankfurt's analysis, and while they are largely sequential they do intersect somewhat with each other.. First he proceeds to attempt to provide some sort of definition of bull----, or at least to give his readers an understanding of what he means by the term. Second, he examines why there is so much of it. Third, he outlines what functions it serves. Finally and most importantly, he discusses why "we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us". This book should be viewed as a relatively concise introductory volume to the exploration of Frankfurt's radical conclusion that the proliferation of bull---- today is because the notion of honesty and truth has been replaced by a belief in the importance of sincerity and this itself is bull----. My only complaint was that in a few places his discussions of the historical linguistic background of the term seemed a little tedious, but by the conclusion of the discussion I realized that the time spent integrating the historical and descriptive linguistic discussions was indicatve of his academic mode of inquiry and helped buttress his conclusion. I strongly recommend this thought-provoking essay if you are interested in a possible explanation of why the proliferation of conversation in our culture today (think cell phones, reality TV, talk radio, and over five hundred channels) has combined with the need for "instant expe

no bushit

An arrow to the heart, and neither pedantic nor self-righteous. It goes from dry hilarity to concise philosophy in the wink of an eye. Wonderfully free of scholasticism and self-indulgence, and you can read and comprehend it (initially) in an hour. The self discipline and rewriting keeps it from being a clumsy 300 page waddle through redundant erudition. Best read in maybe 25 years.

Short and Sweet

I got this book after seeing Prof. Frankfurt on the Daily Show with John Stewart. Having a bachelors degree in philosophy I was intrigued. Here are some of my observations: 1) This book is not traditionally funny. If you are looking for a joke book get one, this is a work of philosophy and as such has a degree of intellectual humor. Some of the observations and comments are funny but overall this is not a joke book, rather it is designed with a specific philosophical purpose... (he's an "ivy league" Philosophy Professor and published by Princeton) 2) Very short but to the point. I read the whole book in less than an hour. That being said there is a lot of content which deserves meaningful reflection... its one of those books that you will probably end up going "ahhh haaa" at least at one point. 3) Inexpensive. Its under ten bucks... some may say that its pricey for such a small book but if you enjoy it, whose to say what the intrinsic value will be to you down the road. 4) Warning... this is not the most complex or even dense piece of philosophy. Certainly its not like reading Hegel or another "headache philosopher" but this is a work of philosphy. As long as you know that going into this there should be no problems. A friend of mine read this book thinking it would be comical and fun, almost expecting jokes and punch-lines... he was disappointed. The last thing I will say is that I really enjoyed the book and I can imagine many people really reading this book a couple of times and really liking it. I am already recommending it to some of my friends and lawschool professors... If you do decide to buy this book... ENJOY!
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