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Harry G. Frankfurt
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De L'art De Dire Des Conneries: (On Bullshit)

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  6,719 Ratings  ·  675 Reviews
Mû par le désir philosophique classique de clarifier certains concepts auxquels on a fréquemment recours pour décrire le comportement humain, l'auteur s'efforce de comprendre ce qu'il veut dire chaque fois qu'il manifeste son opposition ou son dédain à l'égard de quelque chose en la qualifiant de "connerie".
77 pages
Published 2006 by Éditions 10/18 (first published 1986)
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Bill  Kerwin
Aug 26, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I found this tiny book both illuminating and useful when I first read it in 2005. Now, in the looming shadow of President Trump, I find it central to understanding the devolution of our political discourse.

Frankfurt demonstrates, through argument and example, the difference between lying and bullshit: the liar knows what is true (or else he would not be lying), whereas the bullshitter cares nothing about truth or lies. The bullshitter really does not give a damn.

I find this distinction useful no
Nandakishore Varma
During my youth, the consulting company I worked for sent me as an "expert" to a chemical plant - a process about which I had only the vaguest idea.

The job was generic and relatively straightforward, and did not require any special expertise: I concluded my two week visit successfully. Imagine my horror when, during the concluding meeting, the Head of Engineering said: "Mr. Varma, from your vast expertise, can you give some advice about a problem in operations?"

My knees turned weak and heart sta
Sep 24, 2014 Manny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Philosophers, bullshit artists
This slim, elegant little book looks at first like an elaborate joke, but I think it is actually quite serious. What is "bullshit"? asks the author, a distinguished moral philosopher. He examines and discards various plausible hypotheses, for example that bullshit is merely lying or careless use of language. As he points out, the bullshit artist often lies, but need not do so: some bullshit is, more or less by accident, perfectly true. And similarly, although much bullshit is hasty or careless, ...more
Apr 08, 2016 Khadidja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone lies, for many psychological reasons , it’s just a question of how, when and why , in this book Harry G. Frankfurt demonstrates, through argument and example, the difference between lying and bullshit, A liar is the one who knows the truth but tell something else, A bullshitter "does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up to suit his purpose." This is a perfect description of politicians

While liars say things they know a
Petra X
The title is no irony, it's what it says it is. BS. It's one long mental wank lecture by a college professor of the word and its meanings in every possible boring, mildly-interesting, wow, I didn't know that, kind of way. It's intellectual humour done not to amuse an audience as its first aim but because the professor is amusing himself that he can do this sort of thing, and well.

All this sounds like I didn't enjoy it, but you know when it comes to stars I'm wavering between 1.5 and a 4.5, I can
Rakhi Dalal
Jul 29, 2015 Rakhi Dalal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rakhi by: Manny
"Our natures are, indeed, elusively insubstantial-notoriously less stable and less inherent than the natures of other things. And insofar as this is the case, sincerity itself is bullshit."

This is how the work ends :)
Aug 11, 2016 Darwin8u rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
“It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.”
― Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit


Sometimes what is natural still deserves a little study. What is exactly is bullshit? How is bullshit different from a lie? How is bullshit different than humbug? If these questions plague you or you are just seeking a philosopher's take on the nature, design, function, and theory of bullshit -- well do I have a book (a short book) for you.

Lynne King
Nov 13, 2014 Lynne King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
In this paper, we distinguish three important classes of dishonesty that can occur in multi-agent systems, as well as in human society. In particular, the distinction is being made between lies and bullshit, following the work of Harry Frankfurt. The difference is that someone who tells a lie has access to the truth, whereas the concept of bullshit requires no knowledge of the truth at all. That is, the liar knows that what he says is not true, whereas the bullshitter has no proper knowledge to ...more
John Wiswell
Aug 17, 2007 John Wiswell rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in semantics, philosophy readers
Yes, the subject is a funny word. But the text is dry, and the substance is suspect. Frankfurt spends most of his (admirably few) pages examining causes for bullshitting, in very dry and highly speculative fashion. While it is interesting to read exactly how "bullshit" is different from "nonsense," "lies," and "deception," the term can be used to mean just those things. Like other popular swears, it's a broad word. Frankfurt is more interested in a phenomenon that he believes can only be describ ...more
Aug 25, 2016 Jokoloyo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Without knowing the author, even I can identify the author is a highly educated person. The descriptions are pristine and sharp. You will learn to distinct between bullshit and lie. But then the average rating of this book when I read it is pretty low (3.50) and some reviewers cannot determine to like it or not, so I wonder why.

I want to propose a hypothesis: the readers (unconsciously) feel the book has a lot of nonsense. Yes, this book that discussing about bullshit is dragging the readers wit
May 22, 2011 Marvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This very short book is a philosophical essay on the nature of bullshit. The main question that Frankfurt appears to be answering is, "Is lying always bullshit and is bullshit always lying?". The answer appears to be no and no. Frankfurt's distinction between the two is essentially this: The liar is conscious of the difference between the lie and the truth. In order to deceive you must have a grasp on where the truth lies. The bullshitter is not interested in the truth. He loses all connection b ...more
Oct 04, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
As pleasant a rainy Saturday morning read it all in one sitting book as I can ever remember experiencing. You might suspect from the title that the overall purpose of the book is to in some way appeal to the readers' sense of humor, but it is quite serious. Not that things serious are not without their appeals to a healthy sense of humor.

Enthusiastically recommended.
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
A very quick read. The book is a mere 67 pages and the pages are very small. It's a pocket book.

Well, I have to say it was a fun read but hardly worth buying. I would have rather bought another of the many books I have lined up and would like to own. Worth reading, but don't pay for it. You could read it in the bookstore in about 20-30 minutes. I read it while waiting for the bus tonight. I now know the difference between lying and bullshitting and really don't care all that much. I still look
May 02, 2007 Nat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On first reading, this book/essay is enormously compelling and entertaining. But subsequent readings raise serious worries about Frankfurt's account. For example:

On Frankfurt's account, there are two necessary conditions for something to count as bullshit:

(1) The speaker must be indifferent to the truth of what he says.
(2) He must intend to deceive his audience about his indifference to the truth of what he says.

Who would count as such a producer of bullshit? Maybe the Fourth of July Orator wh
Dave Russell
May 09, 2008 Dave Russell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, worst
I was wondering how this book ever got published but then I read the "About the Author" section. Turns out Harry Frankfurt is a "renowned moral philosopher." I didn't know I was reading a renowned moral philosopher. I'm guessing he went to the publishers and was all like, "I'm a renowned moral philosopher, bitches, and I got this here essay on bullshit. Now are you gonna publish it or am I gonna have to get all categorically imperative on your asses. Respeck." I can't explain this book's existen ...more
Ryn Shane-Armstrong
When I first retrieved On Bullshit from the reserve shelf at my local library, I thought someone was surely playing a joke on me. This 67-page essay, written by renowned Princeton professor and analytic philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt, is comically contained in a diminutive hardback roughly the size of a passport and no thicker than a slice of bread. It's an unexpected form, to say the least, for a piece of writing with such a grand endeavor: to defend truth through deliberation on bullshit.

Dec 22, 2010 Brixton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brixton by: bookswap
Living with the biggest bullshitter I've ever known distracted me somewhat from reading this impersonally. However, I've now a handy-dandy little argument in my pocket which supports my experience that bullshit is in its insidiousness far more unwieldy and destructive than lies. Liars, at least, respect that there is a truth which they withhold or obscure, and their lies are vulnerable to confession or exposure and therefore defeat; bullshitters are careless shape-shifters, to communicate with t ...more
Feb 25, 2007 Nicholas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frankfurt capitalizes on the potential for absurdity inherant in 'philosophical' texts. What philosophy sometimes comes down to, or rather, what critiqing it comes down to, is how well you can dissect what someone is actually saying, moving past all of the bullshit of language. The language used in this book is so dense at times that you might find it to be bullshit. The funny thing is, that's the point. He uses the language against itself. He describes how something can be bullshit if it sounds ...more
Jun 05, 2015 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
"When we characterize talk as hot air, we mean that what comes out of the speaker’s mouth is only that. It is mere vapor. His speech is empty, without substance or content. His use of language, accordingly, does not contribute to the purpose it purports to serve. No more information is communicated than if the speaker had merely exhaled. There are similarities between hot air and excrement, incidentally, which make hot air seem an especially suitable equivalent for bullshit."

In this very short w
Oct 11, 2010 Hadrian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Common sense mixed in with some interesting thoughts and a provocative title. Ho-hum.
Jun 19, 2008 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I picked up On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt at the thrift store on Friday and it is real philosophical reflection from a retired professor of moral philosophy at Princeton (printed by Princeton University Press). It is a brief and rambling little book and it would not rate higher than a three except for the conclusion to the book which I quote extensively from below.
Frankfurt asserts, quite reasonably, that bullshit is widespread in our society. He then goes on to differentiate between lyin
May 11, 2012 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
When setting out to read a scholarly philosophical work on the nature of "bullshit," I expected some degree of humor. But I thought that this humor would solely come from the process of reading a boring essay where I happen to get to read the word bullshit regularly. But this essay was funny, like really really funny. At first I thought it was unintentional, but as I went along I started thinking that it was just too perfectly crafted to be unintentional humor. And yet, at the same time, Frankfu ...more
May 29, 2011 Cassi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate to say this... but this book was sad. It was a C+ college paper at best, where the topic had potential and the author failed to go anywhere or make any reasonable conclusions, or really, even come to a deinition of Bullshit (and the part about men bullshitting and women henning was SUCH a stretch and I think was contradictory to the rest of the "argument")... He compares it to humbug, but not to exaggeration, and then pulls the most irrelevant literary topics to be discussed.

If you reall
Jun 01, 2015 dara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Book, you better be glad you are short and I borrowed you from the library, because how do people spend money on you?
May 17, 2011 Mon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I didn't finish the book, so my review is bullshit anyway.
Ben Chapman
It was a fun topic and for an academic paper, not too badly written. It was worth reading and fun to engage. However, I had 4 problems with this book.

1) The author makes grand claims like "bullshit is pervasive in society today" and that "everybody" knows this. Without citing any examples or data, or anything at all to back that up. And he does that a lot throughout. If I had turned in a paper like that as an undergrad in college, I'd have flunked, and rightly so.

2) He says that bullshit is just
Aug 28, 2010 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Brief (67 small pages) analysis by a professor of philosophy regarding what is meant by the title term. It was funny (to me) to consider the range of terms (e.g., hot air, hogwash, balderdash, drivel, and one I hadn't come across before, "imposture") resembling "bullshit", but most of the discussion is given over to differentiating BS (indifference to the truth of what you are saying, phoniness) from lying (intentional misrepresentation, which is necessarily false). Wraps it up with the surprisi ...more
Sometimes a great way to learn how to philosophize is just to see it done. In this short monograph, talented philosopher, Harry Frankfurt, analyzes the concept of "bullshit" (B.S.). What do we mean, precisely, when we say of something that it is B.S.? Or that someone is a Frankfurt takes on this task and produces a fine piece of philosophy, with some helpful points along the way.

Frankfurt claims that the essence of B.S. is a lack of connection with truth, an indifference to how things re
This essay isn't quite what I expected -- it's more linguistic than anything else, and delves into exploring what bullshit is rather than how it is used. There's a lot of discussion of truth and falsity, which is automatically suspect to me given the subjective nature of both, though Frankfurt has quite a few sources and spends a lot more time dissecting those than making his own claims. I think that's a smart move -- given the essay's title, and its purpose, Frankfurt settles on the safe side o ...more
42 großzügig bedruckte Taschenbuchseiten zur Definition von Bullshit - irgendwie war ich mir sicher, dass hierbei noch genügend Raum bliebe für amüsante und/oder satirische Betrachtungen darüber, wann und wo überall Sprüche abgelassen würden, die als Bullshit zu betrachten wären.
Doch weit gefehlt. Dieses Büchlein ist eine durch und durch ernsthafte linguistische und philosophische Abhandlung über den Begriff Bullshit, wobei alleine die ersten 12 Seiten dazu dienen, die Abgrenzung zu Humbug festz
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Harry G. Frankfurt is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton University.
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“The contemporary proliferation of bullshit also has deeper sources, in various forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things truly are. These "anti-realist" doctrines undermine confidence in the value of disinterested efforts to determine what is true and what is false, and even in the intelligibility of the notion of objective inquiry. One response to this loss of confidence has been a retreat from the discipline required by dedication to the ideal of correctness to a quite different sort of discipline, which is imposed by pursuit of an alternative ideal of sincerity. Rather than seeking primarily to arrive at accurate representations of a common world, the individual turns toward trying to provide honest representations of himself. Convinced that reality has no inherent nature, which he might hope to identify as the truth about things, he devotes himself to being true to his own nature. It is as though he decides that since it makes no sense to try to be true to the facts, he must therefore try instead to be true to himself.

But it is preposterous to imagine that we ourselves are determinate, and hence susceptible both to correct and to incorrect descriptions, while supposing that the ascription of determinacy to anything else has been exposed as a mistake. As conscious beings, we exist only in response to other things, and we cannot know ourselves at all without knowing them. Moreover, there is nothing in theory, and certainly nothing in experience, to support the extraordinary judgment that it is the truth about himself that is the easiest for a person to know. Facts about ourselves are not peculiarly solid and resistant to skeptical dissolution. Our natures are, indeed, elusively insubstantial -- notoriously less stable and less inherent than the natures of other things. And insofar as this is the case, sincerity itself is bullshit.”
“It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.” 29 likes
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