Exclusive Representation by Greater Talent Network
The author of the #1 New York Times runaway best seller On Bullshit, leading philosopher Harry Frankfurt manages to reveal the topic of bullshit to be nuanced, intellectual and, at times, downright funny. The book, which was actually an essay Frankfurt wrote 25 years ago, focuses on the importance and respect for truth in a society wherein honesty often seems murky. 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. Bullshitting, he explains, shows complete indifference to the truth. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. 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.
At the podium, Frankfurt draws from his book to discuss the importance of truth-telling in politics, business and life. Bullshitting, or showing indifference to what is true and what is false, has become a natural part of our lives. Frankfurt explores how and why members of our society have become so adept at bullshitting and the implications. He discusses the manipulative persuasion performed by politicians and shares how starved most Americans are for “straight talk.” Why do we care if we are being told the truth? Why should others care if they are speaking the truth? A philosophical discussion with real world implications, Frankfurt’s lecture on bullshit is completely original and fascinating.
Professor Frankfurt’s principal areas of interest are in moral psychology, the history of early modern philosophy and philosophy of mind. Frankfurt has spent much of his career exploring the ways in which people think about themselves intellectually and morally, and how ideals and values shape our lives. His current work centers on exploring the relevance of love and non-moral goals and standards to issues concerning practical reason.
Harry Frankfurt received his BA at Johns Hopkins University in 1949 and his PhD from that University in 1954. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956, he assumed his first academic position at Ohio State University as an Assistant Professor (1956-62), moved to SUNY Binghamton as an Associate Professor of Philosophy (1962-63) and joined The Rockefeller University as a Research Associate in 1963. He was promoted to Associate Professor of Philosophy at Rockefeller in 1964 and to Professor of Philosophy in 1969. Frankfurt served as the Chairman of the Philosophy Group at Rockefeller from 1966 to 1973. He moved to Yale University in 1976 and served as Chairman of the Yale Department of Philosophy from 1978 to 1987. During this period Frankfurt also was Lecturer in Law at the Yale University School of Law. Frankfurt went to Princeton from Yale in 1990 and retired in 2002. He is currently Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton University.
Frankfurt is the author of six books: Demons, Dreamers and Madmen: The Defense of Reason in Descartes’ Meditations; The Importance of What We Care About; Necessity, Volition and Love; The Reasons of Love; On Bullshit and Taking Ourselves Seriously and Getting It Right (to be published in 2006). He is the editor of Leibniz: A Collection of Critical Essays. He has written more than 50 scholarly articles, essays and reviews.
Harry Frankfurt is married to Joan Gilbert and has two daughters, Jennifer and Katherine.