Cory’s on form today.
Cory Doctorow: A reader writes, “Much-blogged ‘On Bullshit’ essayist Harry Frankfurt, of Princeton’s philosophy department, has asked me to pull a 131-word excerpt from his essay from my blog, saying that it’ll hurt his profits. Has the guy–an academic, no less–never used quotation in his work? Never heard of fair use?”
Here’s 131 words from On Bullshit for your perusal. In my view, the claim that this is either a “clear infringement” of copyright or will displace sales of the book is so unlikely as to constitute bullshit.
One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, or attracted much sustained inquiry. In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, we have no theory. I propose to begin the development of a theoretical understanding of bullshit, mainly by providing some tentative and exploratory philosophical analysis.