Music

Issue #12 — 4.6 minute read

👋 Hey phi-lazy-phers

Monday was Memorial Day here in the States, meaning many folks had the day off. To take advantage of the long weekend, some friends and I went on our first backpacking trip of the year. The trail was 2.5 hours away from Portland so on Saturday morning we jumped in the Subaru, turned on our collaborative Spotify playlist, and hit the road. At one point on the journey, a quiet, yet incredibly important question came over the speakers, asking: “Is this the real life?” Whatever conversation was taking place prior was abruptly halted as we all shouted back, “Is this just fantasy?” We proceeded to scream-sing the rest of Bohemian Rhapsody for ~6 minutes while head-banging in unison and using the seats or dashboard in front of us as drums like we were Roger Taylor.

A similar experience, with many other songs, happened at least 15 more times during the trip. Don’t you love that? Turns out many philosophers loved music as well, let’s see what they had to say.


Friedrich Nietzsche

Music unites all qualities: it can exalt us, divert us, cheer us up, or break the hardest of hearts with the softest of its melancholy tones. But its principal task is to lead our thoughts to higher things, to elevate, even to make us tremble… The musical art often speaks in sounds more penetrating than the words of poetry, and takes hold of the most hidden crevices of the heart… Song elevates our being and leads us to the good and the true.

~~~

Alan Watts

The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it. It is the same, I feel, with the great part of our lives.

~~~

Maya Angelou

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.

~~~

Plato

Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the Universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good and just and beautiful.

~~~

Pythagoras

There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.

~~~

Taylor Swift (😅)

People haven't always been there for me but music always has.

~~~

Neil Gaiman

Each person who ever was or is or will be has a song. It isn't a song that anybody else wrote. It has its own melody, it has its own words. Very few people get to sing their song. Most of us fear that we cannot do it justice with our voices, or that our words are too foolish or too honest, or too odd. So people live their song instead.

~~~

Ralph Waldo Emerson

[Music] takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.

~~~

Friedrich Nietzsche

Without music, life would be a mistake.


You probably saw the T-Swift quote I snuck up there and began questioning the integrity of this philosophy newsletter. To that, I reply: haters gonna hate (hate, hate, hate, hate). I admit it was a stretch, but I resonate with what she said above and I bet you do too. We’ve all had moments when someone we loved and trusted lied, left, or hurt us in a way we couldn’t comprehend. But then the perfect song came on with the right amount of angst and emotion giving our pain a voice, or the right mix of energy and levity reminding us to shake it off, shake it off. That’s the power of music—it meets us where we are, even when people do not.

~~~

✌️ Until next week, happy philosophizing.


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