BACKGROUND: Definition of the term 'bullshit' whenever used online by John Cadogan
People erroneously often conflate the term 'bullshit' with 'lies'. They are not the same thing.
In using the term 'bullshit' in this website, I am certainly not accusing the alleged purveyors thereof, of lying.
The only academic treatise on bullshit of which I am aware is that of Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Princeton University, Harry G Frankfurt: On Bullshit. It's a 67-page dissertation on one of the most salient features of modern life, and well worth the read.
In a nutshell, Professor Frankfurt concludes that bullshit is independent of truth or falsehood. Rather, he says, bullshit is a representation of facts, issues or things that could be entirely true, or entirely false, or any intermediate proportion of truth or falsehood. The salient feature of bullshit is that it serves only to promote the underlying agenda of the bullshitter.
Professor Frankfurt says:
"What bullshit essentially misrepresents is neither the state of affairs to which it refers, nor the beliefs of the speaker concerning that state of affairs. Those are what lies misrepresent, by virtue of being false. Since bullshit need not be false, it differs from lies in its misrepresentational intent. The bullshitter may not deceive us, or even pretend to do so, either about the facts, or what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily attempt to do is deceive us about his enterprise. His only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to."
Whenever used online by me, the core definition proposed by Professor Frankfurt is what the term bullshit and its derivatives relate to.
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