On Truth
  • On Truth
  • On Truth

On Truth

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by Harry G. Frankfurt
     
 

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Having outlined a theory of bullshit and falsehood, Harry G. Frankfurt turns to what lies beyond them: the truth, a concept not as obvious as some might expect.

Our culture's devotion to bullshit may seem much stronger than our apparently halfhearted attachment to truth. Some people (professional thinkers) won't even acknowledge "true" and

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Overview

Having outlined a theory of bullshit and falsehood, Harry G. Frankfurt turns to what lies beyond them: the truth, a concept not as obvious as some might expect.

Our culture's devotion to bullshit may seem much stronger than our apparently halfhearted attachment to truth. Some people (professional thinkers) won't even acknowledge "true" and "false" as meaningful categories, and even those who claim to love truth cause the rest of us to wonder whether they, too, aren't simply full of it. Practically speaking, many of us deploy the truth only when absolutely necessary, often finding alternatives to be more saleable, and yet somehow civilization seems to be muddling along. But where are we headed? Is our fast and easy way with the facts actually crippling us? Or is it "all good"? Really, what's the use of truth, anyway?

With the same leavening wit and commonsense wisdom that animates his pathbreaking work On Bullshit, Frankfurt encourages us to take another look at the truth: there may be something there that is perhaps too plain to notice but for which we have a mostly unacknowledged yet deep-seated passion. His book will have sentient beings across America asking, "The truth—why didn't I think of that?"

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The Princeton professor who gave us the surprise hit On Bullshit explains that our commitment to truth is not unequivocal. With a three-city tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author of On Bullshit (2005, not reviewed) returns with an itty-bitty disquisition on the personal and societal importance of truth. Frankfurt (Emeritus, Philosophy/Princeton Univ.) takes a common-sense approach. Although there are some allusions to Spinoza and Kant and Shakespeare, and although he drops into his text a quotidian here and a prolegomenon there, the author addresses throughout the average educated reader who perhaps needs some pages to turn on the New York-Boston shuttle. He begins by admitting an oversight in his surprise bestseller Bullshit: He didn't really discuss therein what truth is and why we should care about it. Frankfurt has no interest in esoteric arguments about the nature of reality, no concern (here, anyway) with the peculiarities of quantum mechanics. No, he's interested in verifiable, everyday fact. It's true that the moon orbits the earth; it's false that the moon is green cheese. He notes we cannot live without the truth (red lights really do mean stop) and argues that "it is nearly always more advantageous to face the facts of which we must deal than to remain ignorant of them." He discusses lying (it's almost always bad) and shows how both liars and lie-ees are damaged-the former because their lies create enormous loneliness (they can tell no one), the latter because lies confine them to a world unreal and thus unpredictable. Frankfurt detours briefly to look at lies that everyone knows are lies and uses as illustration Shakespeare's Sonnet 138 ("When my love swears that she is made of truth"). Here, Frankfurt turns gentle and even compassionate-though he ought to have addressed the Bard's layered meanings of lie and habit. Frankfurt ends by showinghow we develop our sense of self by banging up against reality-against the truth. He declines all comment on an enormous condor named Religion that's flapping noisily around in his small room. Which is it, truth or bullshit?Readers expecting a meal will find only a snack, but a tasty one. First printing of 200,000. Agent: Don Epstein/Greater Talent Network, Inc

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307264220
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/31/2006
Pages:
112
Sales rank:
318,728
Product dimensions:
4.28(w) x 6.33(h) x 0.59(d)

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