Now in its third edition, Narration and Knowledge is a classic work exploring the nature of historical knowledge and its reliance on narrative. Analytical philosopher Arthur C. Danto introduces the concept of "narrative sentences," in which an event is described with reference to later events (for example, "the Thirty Years' War began in 1618") and discusses why such sentences cannot be understood until the later event happens (no one could have said in 1618 that "the Thirty Years' War began today"). Danto compares narrative and scientific explanation and explores the legitimacy of historical laws. He also argues that history is an autonomous and humanist discipline incapable of being reduced to scientific descriptions.
Lydia Goehr's new introduction illustrates Danto's main arguments by questioning her very role, first, as an introducer of a book that has not yet been read by readers and, second, as an interpreter of a book written forty years ago. Frank Ankersmit's conclusion revisits the initial impact of the publication of Narration and Knowledge and considers its enduring legacy.
One of the few comprehensive attempts to approach basic problems in the philosophy of history from the viewpoint of analytical philosophy.
A substantial work which covers a wide range of philosophical problems about history, and indeed extends to a consideration of some logical features of our whole language of time. Philosophers will admire it for its lucidity and sophistication as well for the author's care and fertility of argument.
Afterwords: An Introduction to Arthur Danto's Narration and Knowledge (including his Analytical Philosophy of History)
Introduction to the Morningside Edition
Preface to Analytical Philosophy of History
I Substantive and Analytical Philosophy of History
II A Minimal Characterization of History
III Three Objections against the Possibility of Historical Knowledge
IV Verification, Verifiability, and Tensed Sentences
V Temporal Language and Temporal Scepticisms
VI Evidence and Historical Relativism
VII History and Chronicle
VIII Narrative Sentence
IX Future-and Past-Contingencies
X Historical Explanation: The Problem of General Laws
XI Historical Explanation: The Rôle of Narratives
XII Methodological Individualism and Methodological Socialism
XIII Historical Understanding: The Problem of Other Periods
XIV Historical Language and Historical Reality
XV Narration and Knowledge
Danto's Philosophy of History in Retrospective