A Third Reason Why Philosophy is The Best and Most Noble Music

Let’s see if we can make this argument quickly and effectively!

We have given two reasons why Socrates said that “Philosophy Is The Best And Most Noble Music.”

We now present a third. Maybe there are more than three? But Three is enough!

(Drum-roll)

Philosophy is the best and most noble music in so far as it shares the very purpose of music- that is to aid man in bringing his soul into harmony with reason. But, we hasten to add, philosophy aims at this purpose in a higher and even more sublime way than does music!

Therefore, in comparison with music, Philosophy is “the best and most noble music.”

A brief defense:

Music like the other fine arts aims at a catharsis of the passions, as Aristotle points out in his Poetics. (Granted that the Poetics is about Tragedy specifically- it is clear that the same argument could be made about the other fine arts as well) The fine arts are various arts by which we are able to make our senses and imagination and the passions more reasonable.

Music has an obvious relationship to our passions. And so it is very easy to see that when we listen to beautiful music we are bringing our interior life (at least partly) into a more orderly and reasonable state.

But isn’t it obvious that this is what the philosopher aims to achieve?

We could probably do a better job making this reason clearer- but let’s avoid pedantry, for a change, and be done with it!

Thus we have three reasons why Philosophy is the best and most noble music:

  1. Philosophy really knows nature whereas music only imitates it (imitation being loosely a sort of “knowing”)
  2. Philosophy brings our souls into harmony with the truth. It brings the whole of our interior life into agreement with itself and with God whereas music brings about a harmony of sound.
  3. Philosophy aims to perfect man by bringing his whole soul into the service of reason whereas music aims, more specifically, at bringing mans passions into the service of reason.

Philosophy is The Best and Most Noble Music.

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About marklangley

Academic Dean at The Lyceum (a school he founded in 2003, see theLyceum.org) Mark loves sacred music and Gregorian Chant and singing with his lovely wife, Stephanie, and their twelve children.
This entry was posted in Fine Arts, Music, philosophy, Socrates, Uncategorized, Wisdom and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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