Book Review: On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt

Book Review: On Bullshit by Harry G. FrankfurtRating: 5/5 teacups


“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, as Harry Frankfurt writes, “we have no theory.”

Frankfurt, one of the world’s most influential moral philosophers, attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all.

Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner’s capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”



I came across this book in a box in my basement and it has been there for a while and was a gift for another family member. However, it never made it there so I decided to give it a read, curious as to what the book was about. It was such a crude title, and so short, that I just had to know what was in the 67 pages.

It was like reading a longer essay written for a small topic in college. And absolutely well written. It was on exactly what the title says, bullshit. It essentially was talking about the difference between bullshitting and lying. It eventually decided that bullshitting is getting through something to survive, not knowingly using wrong facts, while lying is deliberately telling a falsehood while knowing the truth in your mind.

It was incredibly well written and something that I think is important for EVERYONE to read. It will only take you about 30 minutes of your time. With everything happening in the world now, and the rhetoric used by everyone, it is important to know what the difference is between lying and bullshitting. And the difference is clear and needed to be understood.

I give this small book a 5 out of 5 teacups because of what the book was about and how it is relevant in today’s society!

rating 5 tea cups mlcwo

Happy Reading!