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 this situation for granted.
Harry G. Frankfurt starts the book with that observation. One of the reasons to grab this essay is the damage – literal and growingly, physical – that Trump & henchmen, Boris Johnson, and several other politician seem to spout nowadays. Ours is the true zeitgeist of liars and bullshitters; the snake oil salesmen of yore only did minor, local damage.
Harry G. Frankfurt makes a compelling essay which defines the concept and theory of bullshit.
I’m venturing that most if not all of us have both lied: as a child (I don’t know who broke the window), as a teenager (I did not take a bottle from dad’s liquor cabinet) or as a parent (I did not eat your chocolate, son). Lying is natural. However, when you do lie you must be at the same time aware of the truth. (Which is why professionally cultivated fake news and the organisations behind them know the truth and bend the communications around it, as every successful lie contains a bit of truth, which can be pointed out. So, they are the lying liars.)
Likewise, I’m guessing that most you have talked bullshit. A lot of times probably with friends. You banter; it’s not serious; you aim to impress; it’s a match, really.
According to Harry G. Frankfurt, bullshit is disregard to truth. A bullshitter does not care. He (my observation is that it is way more often than not a he) only wants to impress you, influence you, sometimes sloppily, yet well-constructed and rehearsed bullshit probably goes a long way (sad and brilliant counter-argument: Trump). He probably wants to hide, deflect, obscure, drown in words something. Ignorance, perhaps.
Is bullshitting more or less moral than lying? Which – if any – is preferable? I personally don’t know, but I am thinking about that now.