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ISBN 978-0-8126-9659-2


288 pages

Spring 2009

Jimmy Buffett and Philosophy

The Porpoise Driven Life

Edited by Erin McKenna and Scott L. Pratt
Vol. 39 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series

Jimmy Buffett and his music have affected literally hundreds of thousands of people around the world. His work also spans generations—he has been performing for over forty years—and genres. Is Buffett's music just a good time, or is more going on? Jimmy Buffett and Philosophy explores the work of a self-proclaimed non-philosopher and shows that the work of Buffett is indeed philosophical. The essays in this volume also use Buffett's work to exemplify and clarify important philosophical issues such as the meaning of community, personal identity, and the nature of being and the ideas of beauty, pleasure, and responsibility through the examination of his songs, novels, autobiography, concerts, and his fans.

Unlike many of the musicians discussed in the Popular Culture and Philosophy series (and elsewhere), Buffett not only writes and performs his own music, but also reflects on his music and its meaning in his autobiography, A Pirate Looks at Fifty, and in the context of his short stories and novels. If anything is clear from his stories in print, it is that the music—whether it is taken as simple or simply fun—emerges from his experience and helps him to make sense of good times and bad. For better or worse, his ability to engage his own life connects broadly with others and provides a starting point for new and meaningful experience.

Some would dismiss Buffett's work as simple entertainment, but on close examination, his work marks a critical engagement with different conceptions of a life well lived. Sometimes the engagement acknowledges the loss of meaning and the limits of human life. At other times, Buffett celebrates pluralism and possibility and makes a case for the idea that engaging in the experience of music is itself a transformative experience. As Josiah Royce said, "You philosophize when you reflect critically upon what you are actually doing in the world. What you are doing of course is, in the first place, living. And life involves passions, faiths, doubts, and courage. The critical inquiry into what all these things mean and imply is philosophy." As an author—and as a songwriter and singer—Buffett inquires into the troubles and joys of daily life and, for thousands, returns new meaning.

Jimmy Buffett and Philosophy is aimed at providing an accessible approach to thinking about Buffett's music philosophically and for thinking about philosophy from the perspective of Jimmy Buffett's music.

Essays in this volume raise questions about figures in the philosophical tradition from ancient to contemporary philosophy including Epicurus, Diogenes, Martin Heidegger, Josiah Royce, William James, John Dewey, and Judith Butler. They also raises questions about a wide range of traditional philosophical issues including aesthetic theory, identity, knowledge, culture, and being.

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