The last entry in this week’s Top 40 Philosophy is the current #3 song on Billboard’s Hot 100, Maroon 5’s “Animals.”
That’s the lyric video (the “actual” video is disturbing and NSFW). I love it that fans were making so many of their own lyric videos that it forced artists to try to beat them to the punch. So long as people care what artists are actually saying, the world is not lost.
Unfortunately, sometimes the artist is saying that both he and his significant other are essentially animals.
“But aren’t humans animals?” you ask.
“A philosopher who follows Aristotle would say we are rational animals,” I respond. We are physically moving (“animate”) beings, who can think/reason/use language. We are a mixture of the irrational animal and the rational divine.
Many philosophers have thought our emotional and social difficulties come from being a mixture. Animals are not conflicted souls, and neither are gods. But humans combine the two and thus are at war with themselves.
In “Animals,” the conflict is between an outer shell, and an inner reality.* One person can cause another’s inner (animal) reality to manifest itself, in spite of the other’s desire to maintain his or her rational front.
Levine & Co., then, are trying to help us with our philosophy of human nature. They want us to ask what it means to be human — and what we should do about it. Should we bring our two sides into harmony (Aristotle), or try to free our rational side altogether (Socrates)?
Levine & Co. appear to be anti-Socrates. “Leave rationality behind and let the animal take over,” as it were. I find this disturbing, but I don’t want to insult animals too much. So many of them are so adorable.
For example, this is one of the greatest things that has ever happened:
*Compare this to Nietzche’s On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, section 4.