The issue and purpose in this book is to show why the knowledge of truth is important. The author assumes that people care to know the truth in the first place. The implication of this book is that people are able to make more meanings and translations of the book the author wrote prior titled: “On Bullshit” and be efficient in distinguishing bullshit from lying. Another implication is that people are able to understand that the source of joy is from gaining truth about what we love.
In this book, Frankfurt emphasizes that the knowledge of truth is beneficial to one’s self and the society too. He says that with the truth, we are able to create a moral sense of what is right and what is wrong and therefore, make better choices. Collectively, with the truth, we have reliable and factual information that helps us to improve our civilization.
Frankfurt says that it is problematic when we don’t acknowledge the benefit of truthfulness. He points out that some people, say things like “there is no truth” and some say that everything is the truth depending on how you see it. He says; what is problematic about these beliefs is that, there is nothing to trust, and hold on too. In addition, without truth, we are out of luck before we even start something, and so, we need the truth to understand how to live well and how to survive.
Frankfurt references Spinoza to explain the nature of love, and joy in connection with the truth. “Spinoza explained the nature of love as follows: Love is nothing but joy with the accompanying idea of an external cause.” And joy is “what follows that passion by which the (individual) passes to a greater perfection.” Frankfurt furthermore explains that love and joy are different. Love is of external things and joy is an internal feeling about the external things that we love. He says that joy is “a feeling of the enlargement of one’s power to live, and to continue living, in accord with one’s most authentic nature. Being true to one’s self is very essential to one’s existence. Spinoza maintains that “a person who despises or who is indifferent to truth must be a person who despises or who is indifferent to his own life.”
Contrary to truths, lies are also effective and they affect how we feel, think, and what we believe. Frankfurt writes that; “the most irreducibly bad thing about lies is that they contrive to interfere with, and to impair, our natural effort to apprehend the real state of affairs. They are designed to prevent us from being in touch with what is really going on.” Lies are manipulative and they “are designed to damage our grasp of reality. So they are intended, in a very real way, to make us feel “crazy.”
Although, we may think that lies can be beneficial when they are used to protect a person, it is even more dangerous because it hinders and diverts action that could have otherwise yielded good result.
There are many benefits to having the truth. Obviously, the truth helps us to have a moral sense of what is right and what is wrong. Most importantly it allows us to reach a sense of internal satisfaction, otherwise known as joy in what we believe and think, from the truth. Truth also helps us to create and build authenticity and trust.