Philosophy 110 Study Guide Frankfurt : (“On Bullshit”) • “What is Bullshit?” o we need a theory, once you have a theory you are then able to categorize it o you need a definition by which you can determine what is/is not bullshit o no theory of bullshit so instead examines a similar word: “Humbug” • “Humbug” : (OED definition) o deceptive misrepresentation, short of lying, especially by pretentious word or deed, of somebody’s own thoughts, feelings or attitudes o the liar makes his statement in a certain state of mind – with the intention to deceive deliberate misrepresentation o perpetrator of humbug is misrepresenting himself because whenever anyone deliberately misrepresents anything, he is misrepresenting his own state of mind. o Ex. Fourth of July Orator: he is not trying to convince audience that America is great, instead he is trying to convince the audience that he himself is a great patriot. • Humbug V. Bullshit o Correct in that both are short of lying and that those who perpetrate are misrepresenting themselves in a certain way. o Humbug, although makes good points, Frankfurt does not believe his definition/analysis accurately grasps the essential characteristics of bullshit. • Ludwig Wittgenstein: Distain for “nonsense talk” o Argues that in the elder days craftsmen never cut corners and worked very hard and careful on their work even though no one would ever be able to tell if he did cut a corner the craftsman never did because he would have to suffer from his own conscious no bullshit. o Example of his lady friend who goes into surgery to get her tonsils removed – when asked how she felt she replied, “I feel as though I have been run over by a truck” Ludwig’s response to this statement was, “but you do not even know what this feeling feels like”. • “Bull Session” – an informal conversation or discussion, the discussion is universally understood to be “not for real” and therefore, people try out different opinions to see how it feels to hear themselves say such things and to discover how others will respond it is not assumed that each man is committed to what he has just said. o Statements are to be taken lightly o It is a relaxed atmosphere no anxiety that they will be held to what they have stated o Bull session differs from bullshit in that there is no pretense that this connection is being sustained. • “Hot Air”: what comes out of the speakers mouth is just that, “hot air”, speech is empty or lacking substance or content.
o Has no substance because it has no support o it does not contribute to the purpose it is attempting to serve no more information is being communicated than if the speaker had merely exhaled.