Danto on representation, identity, and indiscernibles

History and Theory 37 (4):44–70 (1998)
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Abstract

Arthur Danto has made important contributions to both aesthetics and philosophy of history. Furthermore, as I shall try to show in this essay, his aesthetics is of great relevance to his philosophy of history, while his philosophy of history is of no less interest for his aesthetics.By focusing on the notions of representation, identity, and the identity of indiscernibles we shall discover how fruitful this cooperation of aesthetics and philosophy of history may be. Crucial to all historical writing and, hence, to all philosophy of history, is the notion of identity through time and change. How could the historian write the history of x if x cannot be said to remain the same in the course of its history? It will become clear that aesthetics will provide us with a satisfactory solution for the problem, for the aestheticist notion of representation will enable us to define the notion of identity that the historian needs.Nevertheless, a certain friction can be observed between Danto's aesthetics and his philosophy of history. At the end of this essay I hope to show that Danto's philosophy of history will be our best guide to dealing adequately with this friction

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