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Weekly Roundup (January 5 – January 9)

Posted in Friendly Philosophy, Music, and Top 40 Philosophy


We celebrated (?) the fact that 1995 is now 20 years ago by turning our attention to its #1 song: Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” It’s a great song — thanks in no small part to being based musically on Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” — and raises an interesting question: Are our lives determined by our social environments? Is “salvation through intervention” possible?


1995 started off with Green Day’s “When I Come Around” at the top of the Alternative Songs chart. It’s a classic of what we now call “pop punk,” and raises the classic philosophical question of “akrasia” (or “weakness of will”). I wonder what Socrates and Aristotle would think of Billie Joe


The #2 song for 1995 was TLC’s “Waterfalls,” and that makes three songs in a row that will get stuck in your head. What I found particularly interesting about “Waterfalls” is how much it seems to disagree with “Gangsta’s Paradise.” The #1 and #2 songs for 1995 wanted us to look at the world in opposite ways.


Because of recent events in France, I needed to write my theory of freedom of speech on Thursday. As opposed to those who dislike the “an eye for an eye” rule, I argue that that rule is the reason we have a right to freedom of speech.


Live’s “Lightning Crashes” succeeded Green Day’s “When I Come Around” as the #1 Alternative Song. It, like “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Waterfalls” is about the worlds or environments into which we are born. It seems to think we can’t change them (like “Gangsta’s Paradise”) but also seems much more hopeful about that fact (like “Waterfalls”). (This is the post with Heidegger and Tolkien in it.)

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