Bob Dylan and Philosophy: It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Thinking)

By Peter Vernezze; Carl J. Porter | Go to book overview
Save to active project

“Far Between Sundown's
Finish An' Midnight's Broken
Toll”: Enlightenment and
Postmodernism in Dylan's
Social Criticism


When Bob Dylan started singing that the times were a-changin' in 1964, he expressed the hopes of a generation of social critics for a freer and more just society. Dylan's analysis of racism, poverty, militarism, and repression brought social content into popular music previously dominated by banal professions of love. Yet Dylan quickly backed away from the role of progressive spokesperson. After the early 1960s, his work emphasizes uncertainties and ambiguities in understanding society and skepticism regarding all ideals. Dylan was booed at folk concerts after the mid-sixties not only for going electric but also for featuring music with ambiguous political content. His trajectory from social critic to skeptical individualist has been compared to that of his own sixties generation. But it is also a transformation that provides an instructive lesson in the history of political thought.

Dylan's protest music, which led to his being embraced as revolutionary spokesperson, exhibits Enlightenment social philosophy, while his work since this period provides an introduction to the political insights and ambiguities of postmodernism.

Enlightenment, Progress, and Courts that Are
on the Level

The quintessential Enlightenment philosopher, the eighteenthcentury German Immanuel Kant, defined enlightenment as “man's emergence from his self-imposed slumber.” He called


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Bob Dylan and Philosophy: It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Thinking)


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 206

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?