Truth After Trump

Justin E. H. Smith in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Photo_78978_landscape_650x433In his essay “On Bullshit,” precirculated for years as samizdat and published by Princeton University Press in 2005, the philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt identifies and analyzes a previously neglected species of untruth. It is of the same genre of lying, but unlike its better-known relative it does not seek simply to pass off a falsehood as true. Instead, the bullshitter is the person who no longer considers truth as the anchor of discourse, who speaks without regard for the truth, and who, finally, is unconcerned about whether his interlocutor knows he is speaking untruths or not. “When an honest man speaks,” Frankfurt explains, “he says only what he believes to be true.” For the liar, it is “indispensable that he considers his statements to be false.” But the bullshitter’s eye, Frankfurt argues, “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.”

One need not have heard of Frankfurt, or have grasped his precise technical meaning of bullshit, to associate it with the Republican nominee for president. But is a Frankfurtian analysis sufficient to understand this election?

More here.