O współczesnych problemach z prawdą. Refleksje w świetle eseju Harry’ego G. Frankfurta O wciskaniu kitu (On Bullshit)

Sylwester Warzyński

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21697/ct.2017.87.3.05

Abstrakt


This article is an attempt to present one of the vital features of modern
culture, namely indifference to truth. In the context of proclaiming the expression “post-truth” the Word of the Year 2016, the author shows how this
modern indifference should be understood. It is explained by recalling the
essay of Harry G. Frankfurt entitled On Bullshit. This short text presents
a certain characteristic trait of modern times, that is, a certain attitude
to truth typical of the contemporary man. What is interesting is that it is
convergent with the meaning of the very expression that has recently made
such a spectacular career and became the Word of the Year.
In the first part of the article the author presents the history of the term
“post-truth”, its basic meaning and the context in which it was created and
is now used. The term “bullshit” is then treated in a similar way. In the third
part of the article the main thoughts of Frankfurt’s essay are referred to. It is
pointed out that this short essay, written already in the 1980s, proves to be
still valid up until today. For in his essay Frankfurt does not describe any
political reality, social or medial one, saturated with dishonesty, disinformation, lies and manipulation. He does not attempt to present various types of examples of “bullshit”. Instead, as befits a philosopher, he goes deeper and attempts to reach the essence of this phenomenon. In this way he draws an unusually accurate image of the modern man for whom truth has lost its significance, for whom there has grown between truth and lies – contrary to any logic – a whole sphere of bullshit, or otherwise post-truth. In the fourth part of the article the author points out the sources of such a situation. He talks about the rejection of the realistic, classical way of understanding truth and, in relation to it, about turning away from reality, that is from facts.
In the last part the author explains that in modern times in place of
reality (as an important point of reference) the criterion of coherence and
democratic consensus has been introduced, or – what fits well into the
culture of “bullshit” – the criterion of practicality and usefulness. Instead
of thinking in terms of objective order, it is therefore proposed that one
should think and act in terms of subjectively perceived advantages. At this
point the author refers to Richard Rorty’s philosophical conception and
shows that Rorty’s end of philosophy, the abandonment of the search for
the ultimate foundations of cognition, for the discovery of truth, for the
dominant idea of „contingency” and usefulness, and his „language games”
are all excellent illustrations of what a man of the era of post-truth, the era
of indifference to truth, nourishes.

Słowa kluczowe


Harry G. Frankfurt; On bullshit; postprawda; wciskanie kitu; chrzanienie; prawda; metafizyka; Ryszard Rorty; pragmatyzm

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