Wednesday, November 16, 2016
I thought that Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s summary of Frankfurt’s On Bullshit was fascinating. I’ve always thought of BS as either a challenge to the veracity of a statement; “That’s bullshit!” or as a grey area: “I’m just going to BS this paper.” What I understand from the small bit examining his point made a whole lot of sense. The truth is clear for an honest person and a dishonest person. If I know my roommate didn’t commit a crime, and I am a witness in their trial, I will be paying close attention to the truth. If I know they didn’t commit the crime, but I want them to be judged guilty, then the truth will also be foremost in my mind, as I try to get around it. But if I were in the stand, and all I cared about was my moment in the spotlight, and I didn’t care what had actually happened, what the truth and reality of the matter was, then that is far more destructive. Rather than viewing the truth as a destination, or an obstacle, I’m not paying attention to it at all. Frankfurt said, “…bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”
Frankfurt’s first line in his book is: “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.” Sadly, I feel that his statement is accurate, dramatically demonstrated by this election year. A lot of the politics, the jokes and memes, the discussions and pundits, weren’t trying to get to the truth of the matter. They were chattering, making noise to be heard, the different parties weren’t trying to come to the best possible result, but rather entirely focused on getting their way, and discrediting their opponent in everyway possible. Mean-spirited and personal attacks abounded. One can only hope that it’s all uphill from here.