Posted by: captainfalcon | April 30, 2010


No matter how many times I read them, I can’t get enough of perverse anecdotes like these. They make me feel all smug (vis a vis the Folk) and tingly (vis a vis me).

Art Danto was what I thought a philosopher ought to be — quirky, quixotic, original, very bright, someone whose next remark could never be predicted. When I showed up, Arthur had a problem, and he turned to me to solve it for him. It seems that an editor at Harper Books named Fred Wieck had conceived the idea of bringing out a series of big, handsome books lavishly bound in half calf with the general title Harper Guides. There would be a Harper Guide to Art, a Harper Guide to History, a Harper Guide to Music, and so forth. Arthur had been recruited to edit the Harper Guide to Philosophy. I asked Wieck once who would ever read these books, since I could not imagine assigning one in a course. “Well,” he said, giving me some insight into the deeper logic of the publishing world, “we are aiming more at the book buying than at the book reading public.” Apparently Harper’s sales division had ascertained that there was a gap on the shelves of Middle American living rooms waiting to be filled.



  1. I know members of the book buying community. My mother for one, listens to books on tape from the library but then keeps a physical copy to show any observer of her bookshelf it has been conquered.

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