I love campus bulletin boards. They give some of the best reading. And it doesn’t matter if you’re talking silly campaign posters or student groups or concerts or even class poster type things. Like this:
At Samford, you’re supposed to get these things approved before you post them. I’m not sure how many people abide by that rule, but I like the idea that someone had to look this over before giving it the campus stamp of approval. And I’d like to think the approving party had a definitive opinion on the question the professor is posing.
Of course, you know if you take that class what the answers will be. (I’ll answer it in a bit.) I hope they wait until at least the third meeting to dive into it.
All of my actual philosophy classes were classical/Western and modern, so right up until the end of the 19th century. I believe that’s where contemporary philosophy begins.
Experimental philosophy would demonstrate a schism along generational divides. According to logical positivism, the idea that Cash still has songs played 60 years after their release would necessarily be compared to the possibility, however slim, that Justin Bieber will enjoy such longevity. Thus, it is a question that can’t yet be answered. Naturalists would say this can’t be proven. The ordinary language point of view would argue that we’re all just mixed up with the words. So, then, Cash might win out just because there’s less abstraction. According to quietism, this question is a push. According to postanalytic philosophy Johnny Cash wins again, though you might not think so.
Deconstruction has to do with showing that the text, or lyrics, aren’t a discrete whole. So I give it to Bieber on this one. Existentialism, well, that’d just depend on the existentialist. I couldn’t say how the phenomenology would shake out on this argument, but the poststructuralist would say the whole thing is a wash because there’s too much interpretation. And that’s the chorus to most songs anyway, if you think about it. The Biebs wins in the postmodern realm, I’m sure, but social constructionism could go either way. Critical theory would say both are fine, but they are both lacking because of this or that. There’d be the desire to consider the artists in their period, and they’d start out that way, but yet various of Cash’s songs would be found wanting, I’m sure.
So I’ll go back to logical positivism. According to one site I’ve never heard of Bieber has sold more than 15 million records in his short career. There’s a big disparity on Cash’s fortunes, but I’m sticking with this 90 million records number I’ve seen pop up in a few places. But, again, that’s over 60 years and record sales aren’t going to be the metric used by the end of the young Canadian’s career.
That, I decided on the drive home today, is basically the analytical gap of that paradigm: the necessary is a true statement in all possible worlds while the contingent hinges on the way the particular world is. David Hume, then, would say that on one hand, both truths — Bieber is better, Cash is better — would fall under relations among ideas and states of actualities. If the idea and the actual didn’t recoil, toss it away, he said. (I’m paraphrasing. I haven’t read Hume in more than a few years.) Rudolph Carnap, if I recall, suggested universal laws cannot be verified they can be confirmed. But then he couldn’t create the formula for it.
So, the answer to the question would be “Yes. Unless it is no.”