My rating: 85/100
See Book Notes for other books I have read. If you like my notes, go buy it!
Key Points and Important Quotes:
- Bullshit is unconnected to a concern with the truth.
- Contemporary bullshit has roots in skepticism, which deny we know any objective reality, thus reject the possibility of knowing any truth.
pleonastic – needlessly wordy or redundant
In the elder days of art
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part,
For the Gods are everywhere.
inapposite – not opposite; not pertinent
Wittgenstein to Fania Pascal, who knew him in the 1930s: “I had my tonsils out and was in the Evelyn Nursing Home feeling sorry for myself. Wittgenstein called. I croaked: “I feel just like a dog that has been run over.” He was disgusted: “You don’t know what a dog that’s been run over feels like.”
Bullshit is unconnected to a concern with the truth.
She is repeating it mindlessly and without any regard for how things really are.
Her fault is not that she fails to get things right, but that she is not even trying. … She is not concerned with the truth-value of what she says. … Her statement is grounded neither in a belief that it is true or nor, as a lie must be, in a belief that it is not true. It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth – this indifference to how things really are – that I regard as the essence of bullshit.
… bull cannot be produced inadvertently; for it hardly seems possible to be inadvertently insincere.
… people tend to be more tolerant of bullshit than of lies.
It is impossible to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.
For the bullshitter is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye 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.
Why is there so much bullshit?
Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about.
The contemporary proliferation of bullshit also has deeper sources, in various forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality, and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things truly are.
It is as tough he decides that since it makes no sense to try to be true to the facts, he must therefore try instead to be true to himself.