Danto, history, and the tragedy of human existence

History and Theory 42 (3):291–304 (2003)
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Philosophy of history is the Cinderella of contemporary philosophy. Philosophers rarely believe that the issues dealt with by philosophers of history are matters of any great theoretical interest or urgency. In their view philosophy of history rarely goes beyond the question of how results that have already been achieved elsewhere can or should be applied to the domain of historical writing. Moreover, contemporary philosophers of history have done desperately little to dispel the low opinion that their colleagues have of them. In this essay I argue that Arthur Danto is the exception confirming the rule, for Danto’s philosophy of representation may help us understand how texts relate to what they are about. The main shortcoming of philosophy of language undoubtedly is that it never bothered to investigate the philosophical mysteries of the text. The writing of history is a philosophical goldmine and we must praise Danto for having reminded us of this



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