Harry G. Frankfurt


Born
in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, The United States
May 29, 1929

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Harry Gordon Frankfurt, Ph.D. (Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University, 1954; M.A., Johns Hopkins, 1953; B.A., Johns Hopkins, 1949), is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton University. He previously served as chair of the philosophy department at Yale University, 1978–1987, where he was also a lecturer in the School of Law, 1981–89. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Average rating: 3.58 · 12,405 ratings · 1,340 reviews · 14 distinct worksSimilar authors
On Bullshit

3.57 avg rating — 10,401 ratings — published 1986
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On Truth

3.53 avg rating — 868 ratings — published 2006 — 22 editions
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On Inequality

3.43 avg rating — 491 ratings — published 2015 — 8 editions
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The Reasons of Love

3.64 avg rating — 342 ratings — published 2004 — 14 editions
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The Importance of What We C...

4.04 avg rating — 179 ratings — published 1988 — 7 editions
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Taking Ourselves Seriously ...

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3.69 avg rating — 58 ratings — published 2006 — 4 editions
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Necessity, Volition, and Love

3.96 avg rating — 26 ratings — published 1998 — 4 editions
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Demons, Dreamers, and Madme...

4.14 avg rating — 22 ratings — published 1969 — 9 editions
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Alternate Possibilities and...

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4.50 avg rating — 4 ratings2 editions
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Leibniz: A Collection of Cr...

3.67 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 1972 — 2 editions
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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.”
Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit

“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

“Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstance require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about.”
Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit

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