Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Michael: On Bullshit

Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit" is a moral philospher's view of bullshit, which has become the dominant mode of communication in our society. It is an oddly entertaining read, and a rewarding one: despite being moral philosophy. And it is refreshingly short and to the point. At just 80 pages when type-set, it might take you a half-hour to read.

Given that our government is dominated by assholes seemingly genetically designed to extrude ever-more elaborate bullshit, it behooves us all to be become well-grounded and literate consumers of their field-apples. Only with a fine-tuned palate and a sense of ironic intellectual detachment from the subject will any of us emerge from the next four years with our good-humour and social graces intact.

"Know thy enemy" is a homily, but one containing considerable wisdom. If you want to know the Conservative movement, you must start by understanding their only real weapon. Frankfurt is the Clausewitz of bullshit, reducing what was an infuriatingly elusive topic to a scientific taxonomy of humbug. If you really adore what you discover in his essay, you may want a copy for your library. Princeton University Press, perhaps in a symbolic gesture, published Frankfurt's classic on January 4th, 2005.


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