Back during my firts year at BYU, when I wasn't even a music major yet, and hadn't yet realized that I wanted to minor in philosophy, I took Philosophy215. It was "Introduction to Philosophy of Religion." I had studied Descartes when I took Phil101 in community college, and had found his ideas captivating, though disappointingly inconclusive. Descartes' Evil Genius concept, basically stated that for all we know, we could be decieved about all of our external perceptions, so how do we know that some evil genius isn't deceiving us about everythign we experience? How do we know anyting about anything? His answer to this is discouragingly circular, and the question stuck with me. (As a side note, this also made me think of the "Real President of the Galaxy" in the Hitchhiker's Guide series of books, if you've ever read them.)
I studied a little David Hume as well. Hume stated that there is no truly objective way to prove causation. That is to say, that there's nothing except the raw experience of things seeming to happen consistently, upon which to base any belief in things being "caused." This was also a concept that stuck with me.
When I took Phil215, I was exposed to my now favorite philosopher, William James. James was the father of the Pragmatism movement, which states that practical consequences or real effects are vital components of both meaning and truth. In simpler terms, James basically says that a belief or idea has its "cash-value" measured by it's relevance to your actual, practical life. This brought me back to the Evil Genius... and enabled me to never worry about the evil genius again, because, even if there was one, does it really matter? If he never shows himself in his work, does it matter? That was the idea that spawned this song.
I thought the idea of a philosophical love song was kind of fun, so instead of the evil genius, I had the song postulate about the existence of a lover, and the ramifications of trusting not just your perceptions, but also your heart. I recently took the idea, cleaned it up and presented it in my songwriting class. Also, if you pay attention to the rhythm of the lyrics (and the music, once I get that posted up on here), you can probably tell that I was listening to "I Don't Trust Myself With Loving You" by John Mayer... a lot.
Now, hopefully it wil be fun to see if you can point out how all of that ties into these lyrics:
Does It Matter?
by Jake Hawken
How do I know what the truth is?
How can I find out what’s real?
Is it the things I can reason,
or is it the things I can feel?
Should I believe my perceptions?
How do I know love exists?
This all could be a deception,
Yet still this feeling persists.
But does it matter if this is an illusion,
As long as you’re part of my confusion?
It don’t matter a bit if this is true,
If I can go on believing in you.
You could be just an enigma,
And I could just be deceived,
Am I a creature of habit,
caught in this web that’s been weaved?
Let’s just assume for a minute,
that this has all been a dream,
I wouldn’t take back a moment
Even if this wasn’t quite what it seems.
In the end, I have nothing but faith
to inform me and to warn me,
Even if you don’t exist
You have transformed me,
So I have to ask…