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Top 40 Philosophy: Five Finger Death Punch, “Wrong Side of Heaven”

Posted in Friendly Philosophy, Music, and Top 40 Philosophy

Song #2 on Billboard’s “Mainstream Rock Songs” chart this week is “Wrong Side of Heaven,” by Five Finger Death Punch.

I’ve never found 5FDP’s music attractive. I don’t like their style of corporate metal, but I think I’m primarily unhappy with the lead singer’s vocal style. It sounds pretentious to me — but to each his own. I like Billy Corgan’s voice, which is objectively terrible.

This song’s claim is that it is possible to be somewhat good, without being completely good, and somewhat bad, without being completely bad. Or, rather, whether or not you are good or bad can be unclear — especially to yourself. The best you may be able to say is that you’re “somewhere in the middle.”

We normally think you have two options: good, or bad. But then we realize there’s probably a third: neutral. But this song implies that you can be in the middle without being neutral. It’s as if “neutral” doesn’t mean “0 good and 0 bad,” but rather “50/50 good and bad.”

The question this song raises, therefore, is broader even than how we see good and bad. It has to do with whether opposite pairs — like good/bad, true/false, happy/sad — are always digital (“discrete”), always analog (“continuous”), or sometimes one and sometimes the other. Should we see opposites as two mutually-exclusive options, or as two ends of a sliding scale? (Or are some pairs one, and some pairs the other?)

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The Hidden Track

Q: What kind of philosophy were we doing today?

A: Metaethics (Value Theory), Metaphysics.

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