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Friday, June 24, 2005

No Bulls--t, Psychopath

Entertainment Weekly lists this book at #79 in their most recent list of things they like to make lists of because it's an easy way to fill up space. It's a philosophy book with a curse word in the title. Like, how cool is that?

What caught my eye was "Retired Princeton prof Frankfurt's slim philosophical tract theorizes that bulls--ters - those who don't care whether what they say is true or false - are more dangerous than liars". It's not an original idea but one that needs constant repeating. The master is Robert D. Hare and his classic Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us. The standard test for psychopathology has his name on it and he runs an organization dedicated to psychopathology and sociopathology.

I try not to call every habitual asshole a psychopath but the urge is strong. Without Conscience is a great and easy to read book, and it had a profound effect on how I view the world. It doesn't have a curse in the title though, so choose wisely.


Blogger Sean Pelette said...

Frankfurt's essay is getting a lot of attention, most of it fawning and not very constructive. The journalists who have written about it invariably end up spewing forth copious amounts of bullshit all of it extrapolated from and justified by Frankfurt's flawed essay.

The primary examples used are politicians and advertisers, and inevitably there are the digs at the Bush admin. So in Slate (http://slate.msn.com/id/2114268/) you have such bullshit statements as "The Bush administration is clearly more bullshit-heavy than its predecessors". Of course there is no reference to any comparative studies of various administrations to acutually justify the conclusion, it's just thrown out there as if it were true with absolutly no regard to the truth of the matter; the very definition of bullshit. And no journalist who has covered this topic dares to turn the mirror on his/her own profession. Yet they expect us to believe that they know what they are talking about.

And other statements such as "We live in an era of unprecedented bullshit production" fit the bill as well. Apparently these people haven't heard of the Sophists or even Aristotle's book The Art of Rhetoric, which describes in fine detail the techniques for formulating convincing bullshit. But then again, the ancient Greeks called it sophistry or rhetoric and not bullshit so apparently the phenomena doesn't exist until the word bullshit comes into use.

I could go on but I'm saving for a post on my blog, coming soon I hope.

1:59 PM

Blogger Emerson said...

you smart man. my brain hurt now. ouch.

3:01 PM


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