Music and Morality

1458 Words3 Pages
Music and Morality

"Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man, and make gentle the life of this world." This famous Robert Kennedy quote reminds us of how influential our predecessors were to us in many different facets, including music. Throughout history, we see how dearly important music and the morality of music were for many societies. As early as 400 B.C.E, during the time of philosophers like Socrates and Plato, music (although much different from what it is today) greatly influenced the mores of society. In the earliest times it was deemed inappropriate and unlawful for music to have an inhibitory affect on the mores of society. As history unfolds itself however, we come to see how greatly this changes. In the days of the above Greek philosophers, society had the ultimate say in the influence of moral content in music. However, in the course of time, even up to present day, societies influence decreases as music makers continuously take more liberties in the practice of their art.

In the early 400's B.C.E., Socrates, a well-known Athenian citizen, spent the majority of his time expounding his philosophy of life in the streets of Greece to anyone who cared to listen. His mission, which he explains in the Apology, was to expose the ignorance of those who thought themselves wise and to try to convince his fellow citizens that every man is responsible for his own moral attitudes. The earliest dialogues of Plato, of which Euthyphro is one of the best examples, show him seeking to define ethical terms and asking awkward questions (Ross 2001).

In Plato's Euthyphro, Socrates goes on a long, confusing tirade at this point in his conversation about piety. ...

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...which allowed music makers to express their art freely and openly, enabling people like Dylan and all of the other notable artists in today's society, to have wonderful musical styles. The earliest debates in the history of music are indeed relevant to our own time and culture. "Let us devote ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago..." I think Robert Kennedy had Bob Dylan in mind when he stated this, for it is my humble opinion that Dylan has, indeed, "tamed the savageness of man" and made "gentle the life of this world."

Works Cited

Lafleur, Richard A. Love and Transformation: An Ovid Reader. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Company, Inc., 1995. 1-31.

Plato. The Trial and Death of Socrates. 3rd ed. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Company, 2000. 1-13.

The Catholic Study Bible. Matt. 27-28. New York: Oxford UP, Inc., 1990.
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