Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
30 Jun 2012
Why is it in plenty?
Did you notice that we have plenty of it and yet it keeps coming! Since our
attitude towards it is more benign, the television and the internet keep on
serving it endlessly. Without doubt, bullshit has become an essential
component of modern culture. Bullshit, according to moral philosopher
Harry Frankfurt, is defined as non-sense or some foolish exaggerated talk. Play
your memory back by couple of hours or if possible by a few days and you realize
how much of it you have voluntarily savoured in recent times.
In the absence of it being clearly defined, we tend to take it for granted
although many among us will vouch that 'they have been able to recognize
bullshit'. In reality, however, much before its existence gets realized it
is already upon us. With philosophical acuity, Frankfurt argues that 'we have no
clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or
what functions it serves'.
From outrageous political debates to dubious cine awards, bullshit is
relentlessly served throughout the day. If this isn't enough, the media-market
nexus almost always chooses a glib ignoramus over an expert to further the
concept of bullshit. These bullshitters seek to convey a certain
impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all
is true. By virtue of serving bullshit 24x7, some of the newspapers and
television channels could be respectfully re-named Bullshit Times and
Bullshit TV in that order.
The contemporary proliferation of bullshit may have deeper sources, which not
only restrict any reliable access to an objective reality but do reject the
possibility of knowing how things truly are. Though most people pretend
confidence in their ability to recognize bullshit, they lack collective
courage to unmask the bullshitters. No wonder, bullshitters are
gaining increased social recognition as a species. Unless, bullshit is
put to sustained inquiry it is bound to grow in a society that cares
less-and-less about more-and-more.
Entertaining and outrageous at the same time, this powerful small book makes
a big bold statement: bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies
by Harry G. Frankfurt
Princeton University Press, Oxford
63 pages, US$ 9.95.