Today’s Philosophers

For thousands of years philosophy has been shaped as people’s ideas have been articulated into language and expression. Be it through myths and stories, epics poems and plays or deeper thoughts written about the meaning of life and the universe as a whole, philosophy has been a huge definer of culture.

Where are today’s philosophers? Today’s philosophers are our musicians. No longer is philosophy confined to the ivory towers of the world. No one seems to have the will to embark on that high climb anymore. Instead it has taken a new shape, or perhaps an old shape rediscovered, in the arts. Music in particular is the mode of the today’s culture’s thoughts about life and meaning. If you want to know what people hold as valuable, look to the songs. If you want to observe someone’s deepest fears and anxieties, look to the music they listen to. If you want to view a soul bared, look to the words they put to melody. Even the way people use their bodies to perform their lyrics express their philosophies.

The question is, is today’s philosophy productive in its quest for meaning? Are any answers being found? Are any theories being formulated? Or instead of the quest for knowledge has today’s philosophy become simply the culture of the status quo. Has philosophy lost it’s love of knowledge, the very thing the word means? Has philosophy become more about what’s “normal” and “acceptable” and “what everybody’s doing” than the quest for truth?

It seems only natural that philosophy has taken this route. After all, we live in a postmodern society. Today’s postmodern philosophers are our musicians.


22 Responses to Today’s Philosophers

  1. earthking says:

    This is actually pretty deep. I have a bachelors in philosophy and I would definitely agree with you. Finally someone that has shared one of my own thoughts! I would almost describe the arts as the blossom or fruit of a culture’s philosophy of life. What difficult is that there are so many subcultures in America and the world that it is hard to pinpoint an underlying idea. A big theme in rock/alternative is someone losing the love of their life or someone they cared about. There are other themes, but I’ve definitely noticed that one.

    Visit my blog when you get a chance.

  2. jaminellis says:

    I heard a brilliant quote once, but I didn’t get to write it down, maybe someone else can remember it? It went something like this: Never mind who writes a nation’s laws, it is those who write the songs that control the country.

    I agree that song writer’s own the hearts and minds of the nation today. They aren’t taking those hearts and minds on a valuable journey. They aren’t looking for truth. Two decades ago, songs were about love. As you say, that has changed, today they just seem to be looking for an escape from pain.

    Who will teach the new philosophers to think?

  3. Interesting concept. And with the increasing mash up of media on the web, one can introduce musico-philosophical concept into the data stream as easily as entering a text. Ultimately, a cheery thought!

  4. It was Andrew Fletcher who said, “Let me write the songs of a nation – I don’t care who writes its laws.” Ravi Zacharias does quote him in one of his Let My People Think messages.

    • ShoNuff says:

      I just used this quote in a post today.

      Although this article is several years old it does hold truth, especially in the 2013 society of today.

      Teenagers and adults quote musicians like scripture. I hear it all the time, “2pac said this” or “Jay-z said that”. How different is this from Dawkins quoting Hume?

      Gothic music, Death Metal, and Hip-Hop to name a few have shaped the ideas, thoughts, language, and even dress code of millions.Hoodie headphone children walk the streets like zombies, bombarded by basslines and bars of debauchery as corporations endorse immoral lifestyles.

      Mountain Dew dropped Lil Wayne because of what he said about Emmett Till. So do we posit that everything else he said up to that point was in line with the views of the Dew corporation?

  5. jaminellis says:

    Thank you Krista, now I know! I think it was Ravi Zacharias that I first heard mention the quote. Andrew Fletcher captured that aspect of society well – and well ahead of his time too.

  6. […] for the glory of God. I think in our day and age we have lost our appreciation for the classics. Today’s philosophers are the musicians. Song is itself a type of poetry. But that poetry is not the same as the poetry of […]

  7. Chad says:

    [“It was the British musician Andrew Fletcher who said, “Let me write the songs of a nation – I don’t care who writes its laws.”]

    Andrew Fletcher was a Scottish writer and politician

  8. You’re right. Thanks for the correction. I confused him with a musician by the same name. I came across the Ravi Zacharias sermon tonight and he says it was the politician.

  9. Moin Ahmed says:

    I am quite surprise to read you all. You all are seem victim of this system I mean post-modernism where lust, sex, sports and art are everything. How funny it is to read that todays’ philosophers are our musicians, this defines declining of contemporary philosophical discourse and emerging new philosophies.

    • Anonymous says:

      I like what u say, though it seems metaphorically though the flower is correctly named, the roots of the flower are not identified

    • Tony says:

      I like what u say, though it seems metaphorically though the flower is correctly named, the roots of the flower are not identified

  10. Anca says:

    Moin Ahmed, I believe that what the article is saying, and what everyone who commented touched upon, is that our movies, novels, and songs are one level in which we can observe the philosophy of their creators and their audience.

    Certainly there are theoretical levels of philosophical thinking, such as Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. The point, though, is that our thinking, and, consequently, our behavior, are very much shaped by the movies we watch, books we read, and songs we hear because, let’s face it, we are consumed by these things more often and much more than we are with anything else.

  11. Dyo says:

    I don’t think things changed radically in our days.
    The influence of philosophy in people’s thinking was not as big as we asume today. It was allways easier to take in consideration the cheap alternatives offered in each era not only by musicians but also by other entertainers. The majority of ancient times wouldn’t pay to much attention to Plato or Aristotel as many of them were illiterate but they had their own alternatives to fill their lives.
    Bottom line: the popular culture of the time was, is and will be a very important and influential component of a nation’s life. To that we have to add today the media which is another powerfull tool for shaping the thinking of crowds. The sad thing is the influence is not use for a general purpose, in a postmodern era, but is a confusing mixture of oposite voices and ideas in a fighting that never ends…
    And is also sad that most of us are observers of this show and we don nothing for a positif change …

  12. Ray says:

    Philosophy is not at the level where we reason to find truth but at the level of feeling good at all cost. That is why the media can play upon the immature minds with sexual images and lure them with lustful lyrics that are very suggestive. WE have to find a way to get back to the renewing of our minds with a zeal for absolute truth. Putting aside the lust for humanistic selfish satisfaction. We can forge a better way for ourselves and our children.

  13. Brian says:

    Actually, you are both wrong. The quote “Let me write the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes it’s laws.” was coined by Daniel O’Connell in the 18th century.

    • Jetcaptain says:

      Well, Actually it was Plato who said, “Give me the songs of a nation and it matters not who writes its laws.”

  14. robert says:

    Plato said this over a thousand years ago. it was not some modern philosopher or artist.

    what is meant is that the songs, ie the stories, of a people form the culture of a people, and the culture determines what sort of laws will be written.

  15. Enno says:

    Perhaps the philosophy of today rests in music, visual arts, and film… but today, the people of the world face new conflicts that are new to the world. These new conflicts can sometimes wear away the people of older generations and help those of the new generation grow. I think that philosophy today greatly consists in the thoughts in the minds of the people who strive to dream of a better life and world. Many think of new solutions and why they can help. Philosophy used to be more of a gentle represenation of questioning what we know. Socrates, was one of the philosophers who questioned the knowledge that the Greeks in his time believed in. He questioned their religion system, which led to his execution. Anyhow, the philosophy of today is much more valuble and serious because of all the huge issues that humans (a very emotional and verietyful race of beings) face in the new world. Like the environment, war, greed, government, money, happiness and the drive to become greater. The biggest problem I can think of, however, is that in today’s society, social classes are as complex and changeable as ever. Many people have the mental capacity to change the world, to make groundshaking improvements but many dont get the chance, and many arent able to force into a voice of their own, to eventually make a change. So if I am to specify my point: The philosophy of today is like none other, and is perhaps the most important power of thought and speech for the person of any social position to make a change in our world and focus on cusioning the fall that the new generations are soon to face. I think that one of the mostly asked questions is “What is the purpose of living?” I think my answer is to keep our race and planet in a healthy path, which means we need to clean up as many of the issues of today that we can, so that we can leave a clean dancing floor for the future of our people.

  16. Sol says:

    If arts are the externalization of philosophy, then it is certain that we are in philosophical dark age.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I think this is a huge mistake. How are song writers philosophers? They have no morals, values, or ethics. They aspire only to gain more fame, not to send a more profound message. If these are todays philosopher than they are the worst group of philosopher ever seen, and the world is better of without them. There are only a couple of todays musicians that have even a slight inclination on what justice, the good, and morality is. Those are the things that philosophy should teach us about, not how to party and “F*** B*****”. The people running these industries have to be the most morally bankrupt of all. Don’t sit here and say these are the reflections of todays people’s thoughts. These are the ideas that are being imposed on people, not that people take it upon themselves to realize. Philosopher have never been musician or tools to voice the common consensus of the vast majority. They have been the complete opposite; people that tare those bands of oppression of and use free thought that is right and moral, something that today’s society knows nothing about and is scared to do…

  18. lover of wisdom says:

    Things will be fine when its time
    We shouldnt rhyme we havnt the time
    Its makes us search for words that sign
    We stumble and fumble for words that shine
    In hopes to give our work a spine
    When the first draft was prime
    So now i should finish with this line
    Random words are more sublime.

    Philosophy is not music, its only a point of view of an artist.

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