Taking Bullshit Seriously? –

Reading “On Bullshit” by Harry G. Frankfurt.

…or I’m going to  –   I promise!

The first post and I’m already using profanity. I thought I would go out on an a limb and inaugurate this new project by picking something timely but also incredibly manageable. This little volume looks more like a children’s Golden Gift Book than a philosophical treatise!

I’m going to use this first post to describe how I heard about the book.

So, there’s this guy called John Vervaeke – a cognitive scientist based in Toronto. Through various circuitous twists and turns of the YouTube algorithm, I came across his (50 HOUR) lecture series: Awakening from the Meaning Crisis. There is much to like about this series and his scholarship. Although, I can’t help but feel his somewhat naive exclusion of ‘metaphysics’ from his view of meaning is deeply problematic and constitutes a fatal flaw in his work. Even so, early on he mentioned Frankfurt’s little book and provided such a succinct and memorable synopsis that I’ve now completely forgotten it.

Before this happened, I had been struck by the subtle gradations of meaning a ‘theory of Bullshit’ represented for our current intellectual climate and public discourse. So much so, I recall sharing this distinction with others. I even obliquely referenced the book (mostly so I could call something ‘bullshit’ with total impunity) in a blog post on my personal website.

Well, I figure I should read the thing and be a more honest and self-conscious promulgator. Naturally, I checked Wikipedia first to see what secrets had been crowd-sourced into the popular consciousness . . . and it turns out it was originally an essay published in The Raritan Quarterly Review way back in 1986. So, this humble work is almost as old as I am. Apparently, it made quite a splash!

I feel an intimate connection already!

Beyond this heartfelt bond, I am feeling – more than a little – dangerous writing ‘bullshit’ so much. I am quite curious to see how this popular (and most pithy) analysis develops!

Stay tuned . . .

About this entry