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Talking About Shit
(Harry Frankfurt)

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We have all been either leading actors or audience to this familiar situation (probably in parties, bars, college canteen): at some point someone starts to go on on a controversial or educated line of speech (frequently the Einstein's relativity theory, Nietzche, international politics) without having the slightest idea of what he or she is talking about, without beeing an expert on that matter, without having even read carefully something about it. In this situation, what matters isn't to communicate something true or to inform but instead, through that empty speech we can say something valuable about our selves, we can see how smart, intelligent or educated someone presumes to be. Talking about Shit is a small but precious book by the north american filosopher Harry Frankfurt, known for his studies on Descartes Measurements, Demons, Dreamers and Mad People. Frankfurt's analisys begins with a bitter but perfectly true, nowadays culture diagnosis: so many nonsences are spoken. However the central point of this essay: who commits to talk about shit is not worried about precision or truth, but with showing off. Althouh, at the first sight, the theme shows as futile, frankfurt leeds us to more serious implications to this fenomenon: diferently from lieing which pretends to hide something important or true, the habit of going on so much nonsence subjects leads to loosing the ability to speak of honest truths. Therefore, althout aparently inocent, this fenomenon reveals itself as a bigger fow to thruth than lie it self. With the purpose of showing the wideness of this subject Frankfurt visits authors of literary and philosophic tradition such as Wittgenstein, Santo Agostinho e Ezra Pound, besides, of course, the Bible and the respected Oxford's English diccionary. It's a little book written with a fine dose of good humor that can be read straight up and that makes us fell sorry for not having more than brief 72 pages. It certainly is a great gift for some of the people we know. [editor: Intrinseca, 2005: ISBN: 8598078050]



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