Stronzate: Un Saggio Filosofico
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Stronzate: Un Saggio Filosofico

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  4,713 ratings  ·  454 reviews
"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit," Harry G. Frankfurt writes, in what must surely be the most eyebrow-raising opener in modern philosophical prose. "Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted." This compact little book, as pungent as the phenomenon it explores, attem...more
61 pages
Published 2005 by Rizzoli
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Manny
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
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...more
John Wiswell
Aug 17, 2007 John Wiswell rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
Marvin
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
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...more
Nat
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...more
Brixton
Dec 22, 2010 Brixton rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Nicholas
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
Dave Russell
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.

Frank...more
Tim
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...more
Greg
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
Mon
I didn't finish the book, so my review is bullshit anyway.
David
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
Josh
"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...more
Darwin8u
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...
Yasmine
On of the most interesting things about our culture now is the development of our language. Each of us has at some point morphed the language we have used, be it to hide what we were trying to say or soften the actual words for proper company. There are many words that have an interesting history that only a diachronic linguist would salivate over, but none as captivating to us as the word bullshit.

We have all used it, excessively at times, to describe a varied number of things. It is possibly h...more
Temperandrea
[...] Stronzate è un libro importante, che celebra l’impegno e condanna il permissivismo, la noncuranza e il lassismo di chi «cerca sempre, in un modo o nell’altro, di passarla liscia». Mentre lo leggevo pensavo ai Greci, il cui modo di fare politica, insieme etico e tecnico, si basava sul “dialogo” fra le diverse parti del corpo sociale. Essere politici, insegnano i Greci, non significa soltanto legiferare o intraprendere la carriera di politico, perché “politico” è in primo luogo chi sa far be...more
Paul
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 B.S.er? 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...more
Aaron Maurer
This is a very short read of around 70 pages in a tiny book. The title grabbed my attention, but what I took away from this book was more than just a definition on bullshit. The author wrote an eloquent dissertation and argument why no other word could possibly be as good as the word bullshit. I studied this book to learn how to argue and find ways to looking at the whole issue and being able to create active dialogue. Read this book for nothing more than how to articulate your ideas and thought...more
Toresbeluga
"Kişinin doğru olanı bilmediği müddetçe yalan söylemesi mümkün değildir. Saçmalamak ise bunu gerektirmez. Yalan söyleyen kişi, doğru olan üzerinden gider, ona saygı duymak zorundadır. Dürüst bir adam konuşmaya başladığında sadece doğru olduğuna inandığı şeyleri söyler; yalancı da söylediği her şeyin yanlış olması gerektiğini bilir. Saçmalayan kişi içinse durum tamamen farklıdır; o ne gerçeğin ne de yalanın tarafındadır. Hem dürüst adamın, hem de yalancının gözleri her şekilde gerçeğin üzerindedi...more
Cassi
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...more
Corey
A brief analysis of bullshit (and incidentally relativism) that provides a surprising amount of insight in only about 60 pages of text. Bullshit is not lying, in the strict sense of the word, because lying is a deliberate attempt to obscure the truth. Bullshit, in contrast, has no regard for truth or falsehood whatsoever. The 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 descripti...more
Megankellie
If you can get through this without a dictionary, you are a professor. I just took to circling the words and sighing and looking them up in a fell swoop at the end. So much on bullshit vs. humbug, that he lost me. Also it seemed to be a meta essay, like philosophical bullshitting about bullshitting. I encourage someone to create at least three one man shows from this text. Here are some great ideas:

a) Being Harry G. Frankfurt writing this book.
b) Three different people attempting to read it a la...more
Chris Pariseau
I heard somewhere once that the three most essential traits of good writing are brevity, clarity, and honesty. This book has all three as well as focusing in on an important distinction in our current verbal masturbatory culture: the difference between a liar and a bullshitter. The distinction is made by the writer through a journey in personal conviction in both primary sources and experience, but it is which one of these Frankfurt posits poses the most sincere threat to our collective grip on...more
Steve
Short, but sweet philosophical treatise on a subject we deal with all too often
Richard Bullington-mcguire
Given the prevalence of bullshit in modern life, it should surprise no one that this topic could rate a 67 page essay. The author roves from St. Augustine to Wittgenstein in an attempt to classify and distinguish bullshit from its close relatives, such as humbug and outright lies.

This book has a special personal meaning for me, it is one of the last gifts I received from my father before his death. He inscribed it thus:

Just a reminder of our philosophy,
Orlando, 6/7/05
Love, Daddy

He was a champ...more
B
"Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about". --Harry G. Frankfurt, 'On Bullshit', p.62.

"The traditional disputes of philosophers are, for the most part, as unwarranted as they are unfruitful." --A.J. Ayer, 'Language, Truth, and Logic", p.33.

"A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes." --Ludwig Wittgenstein.

'On Bullshit' is fun. And short. It taught me the word "pleonastic", which means...more
Hutmacherin
Der mittlerweile emeritierte Harry G. Frankfurt, geboren 1929 in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, ist ein amerikanischer Philosoph mit Forschungsschwerpunkten in Ethik und der Philosophie des Geistes. Er lehrte unter anderem in Yale, Oxford und Cornell. 2005 gelangte er durch sein Werk "On Bullshit" zu weltweitem Erfolg; auch unter normalerweise nicht so philoversierten Bevölkerungsschichten, der geringe Umfang des Werkes und der lockere Stil dürften ihr Übriges dazu beigetragen haben. Es wurde bereits...more
Dustin
I actually really liked this. At first it's just fun how seriously it takes the subject, but the analysis itself is surprisingly deep and interesting. It's more than just finding a more discrete definition of the word, it also expands into it's cultural significance and it's relative values as compared to lying. It's explantation of the intent of bullshit, the reasons for it, who uses it and why we seem to generally accept it a certain level, I think says a lot about the cultural context in whic...more
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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.”
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“It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.” 22 likes
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