My Fall 2013 Directed Studies Philosophy class compiled a course soundtrack. We looked for pop music from the past 50 years or so that would reflect (to a greater or, sometimes, lesser degree) the ideas and arguments found in our readings.

The soundtrack is recorded here for posterity.

Plato, Republic

Only the Good Die Young –Billy Joel
The attitude of the singer here is similar to that of Thrasymachus in his rant in section 343 and 344. It also bears some similarities to Glaucon's question and depiction of the world (that he does not hold to be true) in the opening of Book II. Essentially, the life of the unjust is better. I especially find the line "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints" interesting. -T.M.

The Cave –Mumford and Sons
Someone told me that this song’s title is a reference to the Republic, which makes sense. [Especially see the description of what it’s like to come out of the cave.] -C.C.

The Misty Mountain Song –The Hobbit soundtrack
Though there is no direct reference to Plato in the song, by using the technique of recollection described by Plato and outlined in our discussions, I found that upon hearing this song, I began thinking of "The One Ring," which allowed me to recollect the passage in Plato's Republic (Book II) concerning the Ring of Gyges, another ring of invisibility. -M.B.

Spanish Train –Chris de Burgh
This song tells the story of how the Lord ([who could] be seen as the just "man") and the Devil (unjust) decide the fate of the souls of the dead through gambling…This story would make Thrasymachus happy as the unjust and immoral [character] clearly gains an advantage and is thought to be happier for it while the just one is simply out of his league. -R.G.

I Can See Clearly Now —Johnny Nash
In [Plato’s] Allegory of the Cave, the sun symbolizes the Form of the Good. In this song, Nash sings that he can "see clearly now" since the sun is out. He says that because of the sun, he is not blind anymore and is fully happy. -I.C.

Chalomot Shel Acherim –Idan Raichel
I realized that one of my favorite songs relates to our earlier discussion of the cave. The song is in Hebrew, so here are the lyrics with translation…[The] lyrics include, ‘For years everyone flees, for years everyone returns, Chasing after the sun, Prisoners inside cycles.’ The returning could be representative either of the philosopher-kings' forced return to rule or of the sun/knowledge being too overwhelming. The prisoners inside cycles are like the prisoners in the cave; they can escape the cave, but they cannot escape the model of being trapped, ascending to knowledge, and returning to rule that Plato lays out. -J.R.F.

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

Stuck in the Middle With You –Stealers Wheel
The biggest connection that exists between this song and the writing comes from the focus on middle or intermediates. Aristotle claims that the best place to be is within the two extremes- deficiency and excess, like a middle. -T.M.

Aristotle, Metaphysics

I’m My Own Grandpa –Ray Stevens
While this does not have much material comparison with Aristotle, Metaphysics made me think of this song…Especially the ‘Therefore it must be of itself that the divine thought thinks (since it is the most excellent of things), and its thinking is a thinking on thinking’ [quote] of Book XII. -T.M.

My Heart Will Go On –Celine Dion
This song epitomizes the way in which the unmoved mover inspires movement: through desire. The one Celine loves is the ‘unmoved mover’ of sorts. In addition, the repetition of ‘on and on’ highlights the perpetual and eternal nature of love (a cycle of sorts). -M.B.

The Circle of Life –Lion King soundtrack
This song, dealing with the circle of life and how it moves us all, has a clear connection to Aristotle's Metaphysics. and our discussions of the chicken and egg cycles. -M.B.

Glad You Came —The Wanted
The sun goes down
The stars come out
And all that counts
Is here and now
My universe will never be the same
I'm glad you came

Obvious much?

We Didn’t Start the Fire –Billy Joel
This song, I think, fits well with Aristotle's belief on the never ending cycle of the Universe. The chicken-egg-chicken has always been going on as part of the never ending infinite (in both directions) cycle caused by the unmoved mover. -T.M.

Epicurus and Epictetus (Epicureans and Stoics)

I am a Rock –Simon and Garfunkel -C.C.

Nothing Else Matters –Metallica
Although it has been a little while since I went through my Metallica phase, this song popped into my head when thinking about Epicurus. Hetfied sings of disregarding external judgments, and instead turning inward, to the heart, ‘forever trusting who we are,’ and affirming the Epicurean/Stoic principle that, but for this, ‘nothing else matters.’

Never cared for what they say
Never cared for games they play
Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
And I know

So close no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
No nothing else matters

Let Her Go –Passenger
This song is somewhat tragic, and opens itself perfectly to a stoic response: the singer is made sad through his beliefs and his search for his lover, the sun, etc. If he were only able to relinquish these beliefs and make himself attune to nature and the indifferents, he could live a tranquil life. -M.B.

Human –The Killers
Are we human, or are we dancer? How much free will do we have, and does it matter? -K.N.

Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Scepticism

Inventing Shadows –Dia Frampton
This match isn't 100% spot-on, but it relates to our reading in its discussion of perception. Lyrics include, ‘You see the world in only grey and black’ and ‘So you keep on Inventing shadows Where there are none...You don't even see the sun.’… [For sceptics,] things perceived and things thought both have an equal shot at being valid, so Sceptics would not accuse someone of ‘inventing shadows.’ Frampton also accuses the object of her song of ‘not being happy,’ which is relevant to the Sceptics' proposal of tranquility as the highest goal, rather than happiness. -J.R.F.

Sunny Afternoon –The Kinks
Can a 'life of luxury' be defined in more than one way? -C.C.

Hello, Goodbye –The Beatles
I think that this represents the opposing side of each argument.... Especially the equipollent nature of each side. And the fact that ultimately the person does not know and must suspend judgment. -T.M.

Dueling Bajos –Deliverance soundtrack
This represents the two opposing, equipollent viewpoints; and then in the end we get one that overcomes the others, something that is not exactly explained in the Outlines, but could be an ultimate [outcome] of scepticism. (If one of the sides actually did overcome.) -T.M.

Let Your Heart Hold Fast –Fort Atlantic
While the lyrics don't sync up with the Sceptic ideals perfectly, it depicts what can be futile in ‘always searching’ for a greater truth, to which we will be ‘always blind.’ It also relates to the Stoics through conveying the general sense that most things are outside of human control and should be outside of individual concern. ‘Let your heart hold fast’ refers to how we should accept what happens outside of our control instead of trying to fight or change it, for example. -C.W.

Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will

Every Breath You Take –The Police
Sting sings perhaps to a former lover, but he might as well be God singing to his subjects (maybe to some people he already is). Augustine says that man has free will and that God has prescience of his choices, but that these two are not incompatible. God is watching every breath you take, every move you make, and every bond you break, and, though he doesn't intervene in evil choices, he knows and exercises providence/grace accordingly. -M.N.

Freewill –Rush -J.F.

Averroes, Incoherence of the Incoherence

New Soul –Yael Naim
Last class, in our discussion of Averroes, we talked about the possibility of space filling up with the souls of all dead people, given that they would not be recycled as matter might be. Naim sings about a "new soul," which fits the idea of souls belonging to only one individual ever…Naim also sings about ‘Hoping I could learn a bit 'bout what is true and fake,’ which related to Sextus' discussion of whether actual nature will ever be discovered or is only perpetually under investigation. -J.R.F.

Anselm, Proslogion

Won’t Get Fooled Again –The Who
The fact that he keeps smiling at new revolutions and tipping his hat parallels the passive aggressive relation between Gaunilo and Anselm. Maybe a stretch... but I wanted to post it. -T.M.

…AND OF COURSE The Philosophers’ Song –Monty Python
There are few similarities here between the actual readings and the song. We haven't even learned about the majority of these philosophers, but I find this rather entertaining. Just a fun post! -T.M.

Thanks to everyone for contributing!

I have received permission to post all student quotes used on this page.