This image is a statue of the seated philosopher Socrates and a standing Apollo, god of music and poetry. Philosophy is the study of fundamental human concerns like existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language. It is a vast, fascinating body of both intellectual and moral ideas, ways of understanding and accepting the universe. Music is just as important, or as Arthur Schopenheur (1788-1860) believed, actually more important because music and art are on a higher plane than mere thought.
Arguably, one of the most important living philosophers is Noam Chomsky. He knows (like Michel Foucault) that language is used and abused in order to hide unjust actions and advance preconceived worldview agendas. Chomsky’s book Manufacturing Consent (1988) smashed the myth of an impartial media. The press, as we’ve noted here often, is very much part of the establishment agenda. His work Understanding Power (2002) delves deeply into the universal corrupting nature of power. Philosophy is useful in unmasking and exposing government, academic and media bullshit but its highest and best value is in just doing it.
Philosophy is like music – it has many practical uses but its supreme value lies not in any of them but in what it is in itself. There will never be a finished understanding of the human condition but by engaging in philosophy and music – immersively and religiously – it becomes clear that the journey in itself is an enriching experience, a worthy undertaking for its own sake. I deeply and actively engage in both philosophy (here) and music (with my rock band buddies) every week. It’s an exciting quest towards an increasing awareness of what’s really going on in this life that we all share. Our Estate Planning War Chest seeks practical understanding but it will never be complete – its value is the ongoing, willful climb. Back at it next week.