Blast That Box: Plato flunks Ghetto University

April 12, 2012

In my theology class about death, we watched esoteric films like The Fountain and read the hallowed works of Plato. Although I can see what the professor was trying to accomplish, this characteristically Georgetown class was merely another attempt to dilute the real education that I should have been receiving from the true role models of modern society. Hip-hop idols are among us, and they are the ones who now teach the facts of life and impart logical wisdom upon the masses. It’s baffling that we aren’t studying rap and its sociological implications in a large amount of our classes instead of the inane commentary of the long-gone philosophical minds like Plato. As I look through the preregistration course schedule for next year, I find only frivolity.

Two classes that absolutely flummox my understanding of a modern education at Georgetown are “The Poetry of the Bible” and “Plato and Aristotle: Political Philosophy.” The former focuses on the books of Job and Psalms, examining the true “foundational source for Jewish and Christian religion” in terms of literature. The latter kicks off with Aristotle’s Politics, purporting itself as the lens through which we can look at the works of Aristocles, who later went by the stage name of Plato.

But by fixating on the past, we have forgotten about the present. As students at an American university, how do we keep putting the writings of deviant Italian scholars and Greeks on a pedestal, while slandering the hard work of American philosophers like Kid Cudi and Wiz Khalifa? They rap about clothes, women, sex, money, drugs, alcohol, and power. Nothing is more relevant to the progressive education of a young Georgetown student. The antiquated formal dialogue about morality and the literary dissection of Christian poetry is horribly inept at providing fledgling scholars with the real erudition they need to survive in our hip-hop and pop- dominated world. The important cultural impact of artist-cum-philosophers like Kanye West is why they are worthy of study, and precisely why the supposed virtues of King David and Aristocles are positively codswallop.

Perhaps, though, I protest too much. Just maybe, there’s a point in ignoring the here, the now, what matters. Maybe rappers are merely icons, and the true philosophical demigods are those of the past. However, after examining the syllabi of “Plato and Aristotle” in detail, these men cannot offer intellectual stimulation comparable to Lil Wayne on the seminal hit “6 Foot 7 Foot.” Focusing on The Republic for nearly half of the semester, “Plato and Aristotle” demonstrates why the scholars of old are completely out of place in an educational setting. Lil Wayne, contemplating his consciously arrogant proclamation of triumph, brings discussions of pride to the forefront of the American consciousness. His meditation on the cultural significance of being a real “G” that moves silently like lasagna brings to light the higher pursuits of living in a world that is always coming for you.

It’s hard to believe we are still studying Plato when Jay-Z is a living, breathing source of philosophical knowledge and insight on the world we live in. On his crossover hit, “Empire State of Mind,” Jay-Z raps, Alicia Keys croons, and blissful perfection is achieved. If students were able to take the words to heart and be inspired by the concrete jungle of New York City, they clearly can recognize the absurdity of taking classes that focus on the antediluvian teachings of ancient “scholars.” In fact, one student I spoke to about his theology courses self-consciously confessed that he had no idea why he had not attended the Spring Concert featuring the distinguished intellectual Wiz Khalifa instead of studying the book of Job.

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