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An Analysis of Platos Philosophy of Music and its

Relevance to Religious Formation


Sem. John Paul D. Olea, SSP

I claim that holistic music education in the seminary, based on Platos philosophy of
music, can be of help to the structure of religious formation particularly in the development of a
persons character. Platos argument on the influence of music, particularly on the human soul,
has been an enigmatic discourse to philosophers and musicians alike. The Republic and Laws
stated that music can either uphold or destroy society; it can fashion the soul toward goodness or
to its opposite.

One of the most daunting and challenging task of sacred institutions is to strengthen the
moral foundation of every religious aspirant nurturing them to become upright and holy
ministers in the future. Grounded on Platos argument this paper will undertake the following
procedures to support my claim. First, an exposition and analysis of Platos statement on music
from his two dialogues Republic and Laws; second, exposition and analysis of ancient and
contemporary philosophers who has a synonymous claim with Platos; third, research and
presentation of scientific evidences on the influence of music; and fourth, discussion and
synthesis to construct a bridge between music and religious formation.

Music, I believe, is one of the most powerful allies of communication. Through this
medium, message, subliminal or not, can be conveyed with such an ease and astonishing result.
As we sing back in our pews we are reminded that the music of the liturgy or the simple chanting
of the Salve Regina on our own is not just mere music making for pleasure or leisure. The sacred
texts and melodies are there to alter our subconscious, the passions of our soul, our whole being,
and even time and space it recreates heaven here on earth. We should be aware that whatever
we hear and whatever that comes from our mouth repeatedly can change us slowly for better or
for worst. Music is frequency. It is indeed energy and they follow the same law of nature. Beauty
then is a product of harmony and order while decay and chaos is a result of discord. Lady Gaga
didnt twitt this strange fact to all but Plato did.