Harry Frankfurt develops an explanatory and tentative philosophical analysis that brings about an understanding of the term bullshit. Bullshit is seen to be a term used for abuse without any specific meaning. According to Frankfurt who has used the Oxford English dictionary and The Prevalence of Humbug, an essay title by Max Black, the word bullshit has close meaning to the word humbug (Princeton University, 2005). Humbug means a representation that deceives someone’s thoughts attitudes or feelings. Many use the word humbug frequently as compared to bullshit because of its politeness and less intensity.
Bullshit has been identified to constitute of main distinct characteristics which are brought about by Max Black’s definition of the word humbug. The use of the word ‘bullshit’ is perceived as less gentle and more intense than when the word ‘humbug’ is used. The conceptual structure of bullshit, according to Frankfurt seems to differ from what is not seen as bullshit. Apart from the consideration of gentility, there seems to be no other difference between bullshit and humbug and the two words have often been used interchangeably.
However, a number of synonyms have been used to refer to humbug such as drivel, hokum, and balderdash among others. These do not refer to bullshit and Black offers a comprehensive meaning of the term humbug as a short lying or deceptive misrepresentation made by pretentious deed or word of somebody’s feeling, attitudes or thoughts (Princeton University, 2005) Misrepresentation is not really unintentional but it is actually has got an intention to deceive, in other words it is also termed as deliberate misrepresentation.
The ability of being humbug clearly depends on the person’s state of mind at that moment; this means that it is not relational or inherent by any individual or personality. This is closely related to a lie which has the intentions to deceive (Princeton University, 2005). On the contrary there exists a distinction between a lie and bullshit. Many accounts have provided that a false statement is made when there is a lie and that there is no lie without false statement being made.
In other people one may be speaking the truth while on the other hand speaking a lie as long as the person believes that he/she is aware that the statement is not true and is made to deceive somebody (Princeton University, 2005). This clearly differentiates the two words in meaning and applications. Another characteristic is that, bullshit is like short of lying. From this point we are able to get a clear distinction between humbug and bullshit from lying. It is seen that for every usage of language without limitation there is always an element of lie in it.
An exception can be allocated that not every language has a short of lying. This is meant to remove an element of ambiguity that might appear in the description. Therefore, lying and humbug or bullshit all are forms of misrepresentation but the distinction shows the contrast occurring between them (Princeton University, 2005). There are two points that are noted from the phrase `especially by pretentious word or deed. The first point is that, humbug is categorized as comprising an action a part from speech. From Black’s description, the use of especially shows that pretentiousness is vey a crucial in the characteristic of humbug.
Therefore, humbug is pretentious and also pretentious is bullshitting (Princeton University, 2005). This is because pretentious is its motive incase of the constructive element of its occurrence. However, it should not be seen that it is always that bullshit has the pretentiousness as its motive. The final characteristic is that of misrepresenting the mind, thoughts, attitudes and feelings of an individual. Whenever a person is misrepresenting something deliberately, then most probably he/she in his mind he is misrepresenting himself and his state of the mind.
It is therefore be a bit hard for somebody to be in a position to pretend to be having a desire or feeling that he does not have. For example, a person that is misrepresenting the topic that he is talking about will most likely be unable to avoid misrepresenting his own mind as well. There is an important difference between lying and bullshitting. Telling a lie is seen as way of bullshitting one’s way through and involves producing bullshit to any extent that the circumstances require. Lying involves inserting falsehood in some forms of believes thus avoiding the consequences that may arise as a result of giving a truth.
A lie is most convincingly involved with some form of truth values (Princeton University, 2005). A person that is inserting a lie or falseness will not be restrained by the truths that surround the point of insertion. When comparing this to bullshitting, a clear distinction is found. Bullshitting is compelled to misrepresent the beliefs that the person is concerned about this/her state of affairs. Since bullshit is not essentially needed to be a lie, then its distinction with a lie is based on the misrepresentation intent.
It is seen that a person who bullshits does not necessarily deceive or even intend to do so (Princeton University, 2005). What he is compelled to do is to attempt to deceive us about his enterprise. Both the bullshitter and the liar do not communicate the truth and their success depends on their deceiving ability. For the liar, it is impossible for one to lie without knowing the truth and also when a person lies then he is definitely responding to the truth. On the contrary to that, the bullshitter does not lie on either the side of the lie or truth (Princeton University, 2005).
The person does not care whether or not what he says really show any form of reality, he will just pick and make them up so long as it fits his intention. In the recent times, there is so much bullshit as compared to lying and there has been of much concern in bullshitting as compared to lying. This is because of many considerations that help us to account that bullshitting is increasingly becoming greatly in use. To start with, bullshitting is not easily avoidable whenever a person is required to speak and not exactly knowing what he is talking or speaking about.
Bullshitting is influenced when a person speaks of a particular topic where according to himself he speaks of maters that are of some form of degree of ignorance (Princeton University, 2005). When comparing a bullshitter and a liar, the consequences that are associated with both of them differ. The bullshitter is likely to surfer less consequence than the liar. This is because people usually tend to be less tolerant to the liars as compared to the bullshitters because they take the liars to be as a form of personal affront.
This is one of the reasons as to why more concern is given on the bullshiters as compared to the liar. In addition to the above, people may seek to distance them from bullshit but it becomes impossible to do so because of the violation or outrage that the lies usually inspire (Princeton University, 2005). One of the state issues concerning the topic bullshit is the anti-realist doctrines that were used to undermine the reliance on the efforts that determines the truth and falsity in many actions taken in the government of United States.
The loss of confidence was as a result of the retreat from the discipline of dedication to a different discipline of ideal sincerity. Instead of trying to arrive at the representation of the common world, the individuals will turn towards their own representation of their own ideas, thoughts and feelings (Princeton University, 2005). This shows how bullshit has been demonstrated in the US today. In the United States, the major league basketball player that was more successful translated his career from being a basketball player to being a politician. It was argued that instead of him throwing the basket ball he was throwing bullshit.
But the media on the other hand is seen to have taken him seriously on his words even if he has been seen to have a long time record of credit card conservatism. In addition to that, anyone that is influenced by him will say of his hypocrisy in the influence (Princeton University, 2005). There are a number of government issues that relates to the ideas, beliefs and the popular trends and misconceptions that are being viewed from the political philosophy as bullshit (Princeton University, 2005). The government statistics that show unemployment rates, effects of piracy and other misleading figures are all bullshit.
For instance, the companies that are said to be losing from piracy are in fact confessing that they are gaining contrary to the Government Accountability Office. The politics of P2P and music sharing which increased sales can be an example of this bullshit. At the same time, statistics on unemployment rate keep changing and contradicting the US citizens. It is not clearly mentioned whether the economy is getting better or worse. The cheap hopes to citizens should stop and Americans should be told the truth of the matter even when the economy is sinking.
In conclusion, Harry Frankfurt’s theories on bullshit are well expressed and explained to bring about the clear meaning and usage of the word bullshit. Though it is seen to be used only for the purpose of abuse it can also be used to explain well some of actions that are being performed by many personalities in the local government and any sector of a country and state. Finally, his argument to distinguish bullshit from a lie and its characteristics are clearly demonstrated to prove his philosophical theories of analysis.
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