It is rare for an analytical philosopher to become a real force in the cultural life of his country. On the whole our academic sages write excruciating prose about matters of no conceivable relevance to the life of the spirit. And when, as occasionally happens, they discover that there is more meaning in a Beethoven quartet or a Poussin landscape than in the entire corpus of literature devoted to the truth-conditions of "Snow is white," they write about that too in their desolating idiom, eager to close the one known exit from their tomb.

Arthur Danto is, therefore, a remarkable man. He is a skilled philosopher, able to write of the most abstruse questions with wit and charm. His mind is fertile not only in arguments but also (rare combination) in metaphors and images. And when he looks at the world, he sees it as it really seems, and transcribes its semblance in luminous words. His new collection of essays, Encounters and...


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