Friday, August 19, 2016

The Bullshit of Donald Trump

Trump redlines the bullshit meter

One of the defining features of the 2016 presidential election is the degree to which the Republican party, under the leadership of their presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, has completely abandoned anything that could be characterized as "reality" or the "truth." I have discussed before how American political discourse generally has moved into a "post-truth" era in which things like facts and reality  are held in low esteem and in opposition to whatever makes someone feel good, or which reinforce existing prejudices. This phenomenon has clearly reached its apotheosis in Donald Trump, a man who has a very problematic relationship with reality and the truth. In fact, the man spreads so many lies and so much nonsense, that it is virtually impossible to keep anything resembling a comprehensive list. He generates lies and bullshit at such a rate that it is difficult even for professional fact-checkers to keep up.

Fortunately, to help us make sense of the Trump campaign and Trump's problematic relationship to the truth, the philosopher Harry Frankfurt has recently penned a useful article for Time magazine. For those not in the know, Frankfurt is most famous for a short essay he wrote in the late 80's which was repackaged as a separate volume in 2005. This essay, On Bullshit, seeks to provide a theoretical definition of bullshit as well as explain how bullshit differs from lying. In his recent article for Time, Frankfurt extends that analysis to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. It is reasonably short, and rather than summarize it here, I encourage folks just to read it for themselves.


  1. Thank you for your kind words. I must give all credit to folks like Harry Frankfurt for doing the intellectual lifting here.

  2. Interesting reading. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Please change "hear" to "here" in the last sentence. Hear here.


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