My Smart Roommates


Bullshit 101

Season 1, Ep. 11

Princeton Philosophy Professor Harry Frankfurt’s famed essay “On Bullshit” is the jumping off point for a discussion about a category of information that is not true but is also not technically a lie. Brandeis Russian Language and Literature Professor Dave Powelstock; Indiana University Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Professor Dan Caner; and Indiana University International Studies Professor Emma Gilligan trace the classical and literary roots of bullshit and antecedents such as sophistry and provide a framework for understanding a key component of the current assault on truth. Bullshit is an actual thing that permeates modern discourse and the roommates take a serious stab at providing definition for a concept that, because it is a dirty word, is often not taken seriously.

Discussed in this episode: Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit; Wittgenstein, Personal Recollections; Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War; Aesop's Fables; Plato, Ethics, The Symposium; Herodotus, The Persian Wars; Homer, The Odyssey; Deborah Cadbury, Chocolate Wars.

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