Truthiness Deluxe

If Princeton philosophy professor and best-selling author Harry Frankfurt ever gets recognized on the street, we hope that from now on people will blurt out “Hey, truth guy!” instead of “Hey, bullshit guy!”

Frankfurt rode to unlikely quasi-fame last year on the strength of his compact essay-in-book-form On Bullshit. Now he’s back with the similarly ultraconcise On Truth (out 10/31).

It’s a measured, quietly profound argument about the inherent social value of truth in our wildly untruthful times. He explains how untruths — which, increasingly, we accommodate as a matter of course or habit — are “designed to damage our grasp of reality. So they are intended, in a very real way, to make us crazy.”

There are multiple shocks of recognition to be had while reading On Truth. And not just because Frankfurt has the grace, patience, and clarity of your all-time favorite college professor.

He repeatedly seems to be alluding to certain politicians, and with elegant, systematic prose, he untangles precisely how we’ve allowed ourselves to become (sometimes literally) fatally flummoxed.

BUY On Truth (Knopf; 101 pages — small pages, at that)

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.

Truthiness Deluxe