Harry Frankfurt on Bullshit

Let me cite a paragraph from Harry Frankfurt’s essay “On Bullshit” (pure gold btw):

“It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.”

This, to me, sounds like the essence of what Marketing, be it of one self, a product, or and even an idea or ideology seems to be. The complete disregard for the truth displayed in this kind of activity is something that in my mind is a danger to the pillars of civilization and progress. It is also an insult of the purpose of communication which in my mind should serve as a means of conveying ideas, concepts, and information. Bullshitting completely undermines this purpose and devalues communication as a means of improving the mental state of the participants.


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