There are the good philosophers who contribute in productive and informative ways to the understanding of or debates surrounding significant issues within a certain field of philosophy. Then there are the truly great philosophers who single-handedly change the shape of the very field itself. Arthur Coleman Danto was without question among the latter.
Not only did Danto lay the foundation for contemporary aesthetics [The Transfiguration of the Commonplace (1983) being his most seminal and groundbreaking work], but he also happened to be one of the most influential and significant art critics of the last three decades. To help put this into perspective, imagine that in addition to writing A Theory of Justice (1971), Rawls also spent the latter third of his life as Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
While I’m saddened by Danto’s passing, I’m also so incredibly delighted and honored to be, in however small a fashion, part of the enormous philosophical and art critical legacy he left behind.