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flash74686's avatar

Which song should I write a philosophy paper on?

Asked by flash74686 (478points) January 4th, 2012

So I have an internal assessment due for IB Philosophy tomorrow, and I’m torn between two topics (the prompt is to take a text that isn’t philosophical and analyze it philosophically).

We’ve been studying religion recently, and so I’ve come up with two songs talking about God, so I can use what I just learned.

The first one is pretty well-known: “One of Us” by Joan Osborne. I think with that one, I’d be focusing on the Ontological argument (God is perfect, it is more perfect to exist than to not, therefore God exists) and how it relates to the idea of God being a “slob.”

The second is Dear God by Ferras. I’d be looking at that one from a Theodical standpoint (“If you really exist, why do I have to deal with all this bullshit?”).

But I’m not sure which one I like better. So. . . Which do y’all think would make a more interesting paper?

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16 Answers

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Does it have to be one of those two? Have you thought about “Closer to fine”?

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Which one can you write more about? The more you can stretch it, the more interesting it is.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Yeah, I think you can do better – you probably want something much less straighforward for a philosophy paper, so that you have something to talk about. What about something like All Along the Watchtower?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Of the two, I like the first one better.

john65pennington's avatar

I would select neither topic, if I could, and find a more appropriate topic that you are familiar with.

Are you limited to just these two topics, which appear to downgrade God?

I would select one of my own and state that both of the given topics were against my religion.

The choice is yours.

flash74686's avatar

@john65pennington I chose those two topics myself… As a philosophy student, I am obligated to consider arguments from multiple viewpoints, because philosophy isn’t about being right, it’s about finding the truth. Despite what the Bible says, there is no foolproof reasoning for the existence of God, and that’s something that must be taken into account. The bottom line is that I most likely will be arguing against the existence of God, simply because I can make a more logical argument and can better support my reasoning.

SavoirFaire's avatar

The Ferras song is more straightforwardly related to the problem of evil. It would allow you to discuss several traditional aspects of the issue: why there is any evil in the world at all, why there is so much evil, and to what extent God is culpable for the existence of evil.

Relating the Joan Osborne song to the ontological argument, on the other hand, seems a bit of a stretch to me. The song seems to be asking us to consider the implications of various things: what it would mean to know for certain God existed, how the incarnation of God in human flesh might inform both Him and us about life, and why we do things to others that we would not do to God because we know they’re wrong. This probably does not map onto what you’ve been doing in class.

Given that this is an assignment for a high school class and that you are doing it at the last minute, I recommend being able to directly relate the content of whatever text you choose to a philosophical issue that you’ve discussed in class. At this point, it seems like the Ferras song is a better candidate than the Osborne. It is my understanding, however, that the IB program covers epistemology. In that case, you might consider the song ”Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. Consider how it relates to the Pyrrhonian claim that false beliefs are more harmful than a lack of knowledge.

@john65pennington It’s against your religion to think? I hope not, and I sincerely doubt that it really is. Neither of these songs degrade God, and in fact both deal with issues that have concerned philosophers and theologians alike for centuries. Just like with religion, you need to look below the surface when judging music.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@john65pennington And if I were your teacher, you’d fail if you gave me that excuse for not writing up the paper.

filmfann's avatar

Death Cab for Cutie had a song called Into the Dark

DaphneT's avatar

My first thought was Old MacDonald Had a Farm, but after reading all the answers it’s clear I have no idea the depths you must plumb. Perhaps you could discuss God as the creator of Causalities?

Of course you should probably write about the song that resonates with you the most, since you’ll be better able to draft a coherent essay in the time allotted.

SavoirFaire's avatar

It’s worth pointing out that @flash74686 does not have to use a song at all. The assignment is to take any text that isn’t philosophical and to analyze it philosophically. It just so happens that @flash74686 chose to analyze a song.

Charles's avatar

“My God” by Jethro Tull.

Zaku's avatar

“When an Immovable Object Meets an Irresistible Force”
It asks the question, “what would happen?”
(It used to annoy my dad with its silliness. His point was that it’s just a poorly-defined paradox.)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Zaku I thought it was an unstoppable force…that was the riddle in Walking on Glass, one of my fave books by Iain Banks

Zaku's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Well, it’s a childhood memory of my dad talking about the song from his youth, and his memory and storytelling tend to adjust things. I haven’t had a lot of luck finding a song I think is the one he meant on Google. The closest, which may well be it, is “Something’s gotta give” and the main relevant lyrics are:

When an irresistible force such as you
Meets and old immovable object like me
You can bet as sure as you live
Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give,
Something’s gotta give.

When an irrepressible smile such as yours
Warms an old implacable heart such as mine

Full lyrics and video of Ella Fitzgerald singing it are here

But I think my dad may have meant a slightly later song.

I withdraw my suggestion though. It seems like horrible topic for further thought to me, since it’s really just a silly problem with incompatible definitions, and it gets way too much discussion already.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Zaku The answer is that they would either always miss one another, or they could not exist in the same universe. Those are the only answers that allow both definitions to stand.

Now ask me about chickens and eggs. ~

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