Bob Dylan and Philosophy
It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Thinking)
Edited by Carl Porter and Peter Vernezze
Volume 17 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series
Review of Bob Dylan and Philosophy at Metapsychology Online
The troubador who has given English more phrases than any poet since Shakespeare has also warned us that "Counterfeit philosophies have polluted all of your thoughts." So here’s the genuine article: pure philosophy applied to the provocative, mercurial thoughts of Bob Dylan.
If a killer is only a pawn in their game, is he relieved of all moral responsibility? If to live outside the law you must be honest, is freedom more of a burden than conformity? Is it morally defensible to bootleg Dylan recordings?
As well as scrutinizing such philosophical issues raised by Dylan’s poetry, Bob Dylan and Philosophy also probes some puzzles about Dylan’s own life and ideas. Has Dylan’s thinking moved from Enlightenment social protest to postmodernist paralysis? Was Dylan’s born-again experience a break or a continuation in his vision of the world? And who is Dylan when he doesn’t have his Bob Dylan mask on for Halloween?
"Sometimes a song is just a song. Sometimes it’s a vision of life. Read this book. Do think twice, it’s all right."
—Alan Cheuse, author of Listening to the Page
"Dylan’s work persistently re-examines some of the oldest and newest philosophical questions. The authors of this book do not treat him as a mysterious fount of wisdom but as a participant in a philosophical colloquy ranging across space and time. They respect him as an artist and address his work with the knowledge and rigor it deserves."
—Mike Marqusee, author of Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the 1960s
"Who better to elucidate that quality of the Dylan canon that sets it apart from the bulk of popular music—its ability to stir the mind—than those professional thinkers hidden away in university philosophy departments? This witty, thought-provoking collection will be enjoyed by fans of Dylan and Derrida alike."
—Michael J. Gilmour, author of Tangled Up in the Bible: Bob Dylan and Scripture
Peter Vernezze is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Weber State University, Utah. He is author of Don’t Worry, Be Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for Troubled Times (2004) and co-editor of The Sopranos and Philosophy: I Kill Therefore I Am (2004). Carl J. Porter teaches English at Weber State University where he is also Executive Director of Academic Support and Programs. He co-edited The Peregrine Reader (1997).