Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » February 2005 » Are You Bullshitting Me??

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02/26/2005: Are You Bullshitting Me??

Only from the PC of Ben Macintyre (London Times) could this stunner leap from the page in This column is Great, Trust Me

"We all think we can identify it in others, we know we sometimes lapse into it. But what is bullshit?

THE WRONG sort of snow finally pushed Yuri Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, over the edge. Enraged with Russia’s hopeless weather forecasters, he has vowed to fine them for any more inaccurate, misleading or unreliable predictions. As reported in yesterday’s Times, he admonished them in the following, memorable terms: “You are giving us bullshit.”

On the other side of the world, Harry G. Frankfurt, the moral philosopher and professor emeritus at Princeton University, would have smiled sagely at that remark. After decades of exploration in the thorniest thickets of philosophy, he has just published a slim treatise entitled On Bullshit (Princeton University Press), an earnest intellectual inquiry into this most pungent and slippery of philosophical concepts. His short theory of bullshit is a testament for our times.

We all think we can identify bullshit. We know when we are talking bullshit ourselves, and we have all been guilty of it at times, in the pub or the pulpit, though some of us produce more than others. Politics thrives on bullshit, while lawyers, advertisers, public relations consultants and talk show hosts produce the stuff in its purest form. Very occasionally, columnists have been known to lapse into it. Every language in the world has a word for it.

But what is bullshit? The concept is universally recognised, yet as Professor Frankfurt writes, “the most basic and preliminary questions about bullshit remain, after all, not only unanswered but unasked.” He begins, like all good philosophers, by defining what bullshit is not. Bullshit is dishonest, yet it is not necessarily mendacious. The bullshit artist may not tell you the truth (though he may do so inadvertently), but he is not deliberately lying. This is because bullshit cares nothing for truth or falsehood, accuracy or error, and that is its force and danger...."

Click on the article link to read more...it reeeally is GREAT.

Karen on 02.26.05 @ 07:37 AM CST

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