Ever wondered what song would be the anthem of your favourite philosophers? Well, to day is your lucky day, here is the playlist that I have compiled.
George Berkeley: His main headline would be “to be is to be perceived”, he doesn’t deny the external world, he claims that for it to exist that we have to be looking at it. What about when we’re not looking at it? Does it stop existing? No, don’t worry, all the world is perceived by God (his argument is a bit more nuanced than that, but that’s the gist).
I think that Berkeley would quite like Mariah Carey’s “It’s all in your mind”, although, not overtly philosophical, the chorus hammers home Berkeley’s key points.
Albert Camus: Although more writer than philosopher, you can’t deny the philosophical backbone. The Stranger is one of my favourite books, and is existentialism on a plate, I would consider that the protagonist, Meursault, would be quite partial to this song Blank Generation by Richard Hell and the Voidoids, that is if Meursault could be bothered to listen to it
Noam Chomsky: Although known largely as a linguist – Chomsky is also pro “sticking it to the man” and is a famous anarchist and general critique of governmental organisation and their ability to corrupt and manufacture consent – thus a sceptic of big government I think Chomsky would possibly be a fan of Steppenwolf’s “Born To be Wild”
Rene Descartes: I found it quite hard to pick just one thing that Descartes said which can be immortalised in catchy pop, the coigto is obviously one of his big hitters, however, this was theme was not to be found in my itunes library, so I focused on his famous ontological argument – his original (God is a being with every perfection, so lacks nothing, a begin that doesn’t have existence lacks something, therefore God exists) has been modified and is still used today. I think Descartes would be a Goldfrapp fan:
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: “change is the only constant” our ideas progress by a series of changes, he presented the dialectic method which holds the purpose of reasoning is to got to disagreement via rationality and, ultimately, the search for truth.
Thomas Hobbes: Famously, Hobbes decried that the state of nature would be nasty, brutish and short, the song I picked for Hobbes was “Anarchy in The U.K” by the Sex Pistols, as with out a strong leader we would have some dystopian hell hole, a place which I think the Sex Pistols would feel very at home in – LETS SMASH THINGS!
David Hume: Can I trust my senses? Can we trust induction? Can we even trust reason? No is the answer that Hume gives, and to make it worse, we do accept the conclusions of these arguments for no good reason other than habit, this puts Hume firmly in the sceptic camp. A famous empiricist, knowledge only comes from experience, ‘seeing is believing’ I am sure there are load of songs that fit this theme, but I decided to go on the general scepticism path and I think Hume would like a bit of Stevie Wonder and “Superstition”
Soren Kierkegaard: Often dubbed the first existentialist philosopher, as he deals with the individual and how they have their own individual relationship with Jesus, and how personal choice in regard to faith was far more important than organised religions. One of his key ideas what the “leap of faith” which essentially means believing in something even without empirical evidence, for Soren belief is a subjective thing and is made by an individual. I think it is obvious that Depech Mode had obviously read some Kierkegaard when they wrote this
John Locke: We are all born as a blank slate – we don’t have innate knowledge, what we do learn is from experience, this puts Locke on the nurture side of the nature vs. nurture debate, as it holds that behaviour and knowledge are learnt as we grow. It is quite a clear cut view and in our increasing knowledge of neuroscience it may start to be a minority view, saying this, Locke’s views are well expressed by Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten”
Karl Marx: Communist Manifesto, what is yours is mine, workers of the world unite and all that. Society can only progress though class struggle. I originally thought Fight For Your Right by the Beastie Boys, except where it reads party, just think “equality”. After dismissing this, I think that Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land was a better fit
J.S Mill: Mill, one of the big Liberals, a genius child prodigy, social reformer, although he runs into a lot of problems, many people on first reading think that his take on utilitarianism and protection of freedom of speech are solid ideas. I found it quite hard to pick a song for Mill, I focused on finding something that fits with his “Harm Principle” which, put very basically, is that each person has the right to do what they want as long as it doesn’t harm others – I think that “Don’t Rain on my Parade” sort of embodies this attitude that I can do what I want as it isn’t harming you.
Friedrich Nietzsche: GOD IS DEAD is not really easy to put to a foot tapping drum beat, so I will turn to The Ubermensch idea, central to Nietzsche is the will to power, humam nature naturally strives to survive and be the best (you can perhaps see why the Nazis liked him, they twisted his philosophy into something to promote their abhorrent goals). He was influenced by Schopenhauer, specifically regarding the “Will” and how Nietzsche had criticisms of it, what we must do is strive to overcome our hurdles that prevent our actions, we do not act to fulfil our desires. I think Kanye West’s “Stronger” sums up the Ubermensch
Plato: Plato had such a huge contribution to philosophy that to reduce it down to one song is not an easy task, rather, I will focus on Plato’s Noble Lie, which can be found in the Republic and is the origin of social classes. He claimed that when people are born they have elements of bronze, silver and gold in their blood stream and this explains their status and keeps the order as it shows that social classes are natural and are not forced by the rulers, this stops resentment and encourages harmony in the state. Plato consider him self to be a philosopher king, so I think this is best suited to be sound track to the Noble Lie
Plato is big of the Forms the ideal, the perfect object
Jean Jacques Rousseau: The Nobel Savage, we don’t need the state, mankind could live and function perfectly well in anarchy, it would not be how Hobbes suggested it would be, we would live in a peaceful idyll and life would be so much better, take it away John.
Socrates: “The more I learn, the less I know”. The Socratic method – helping teachers since 469BC.