Need to develop a theoretical understanding of bullshit. An account of what bullshit is and how it differs from what it is not.
Humbug: deceptive misrepresentation, short of lying, especially by pretentious word or deed, of somebody’s own thoughts, feelings or attitudes.
Deceptive implies that the misrepresentation is deliberate. In that sense, the utterance and the motive are tied.
If a lie works, then the victim is twice-deceived: first of the facts, and second, of what’s in the liar’s mind.
Humbug is primarily designed to deceive the victim of what is in the speaker’s mind. A 4th of July orator declaring “our great and blessed country” is concerned less of whether the country is great or blessed, but more of whether people think of him as patriotic.
The Essence of Bullshit
Bullshit doesn’t have to be shoddy. For instance, in politics, bullshit is served with an observance to opinion polls, psychological groupings, etc.
Claiming that one feels as bad as a dog that’s been run over is bullshit - we can’t know what the dog feels! The essence of bullshit is the lack of concern of the truth.
Bullshit need not be false. More accurately, unlike liars and honest people, bullshitters are not constrained by the truths; instead, they don’t want the victim to know that their intention is neither to report/conceal the truth.
Paying no attention to the truth is a greater enemy to the truth than lying about it.
Hypotheses on the Prevalence of Bullshit
Being stimulated to speak on more topics than we’re well acquainted with. A citizen in a democracy cannot possibly have opinions about every affair of the country.
The idea that we can’t have reliable access to an objective reality. Individuals then seek to arrive at accurate representations of themselves rather than the common world. However, what makes us determinate, unlike everything else?
On Bullshit. Frankfurt, Harry. Princeton University. http://184.108.40.206:8080/jspui/bitstream/123456789/3710/1/%281%29%20Frankfurt%201986.pdf . 1986.
The Prevalence of Humbug. Black, Max. Philosophic Exchange, Vol. 13, No. 1. Cornell University. https://digitalcommons.brockport.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1226&context=phil_ex . 1982.