Giambattista Vico

Giambattista Vico: Keys to the "New Science"

Thora Ilin Bayer
Donald Phillip Verene
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Giambattista Vico
    Book Description:

    Giambattista Vico: Keys to the "New Science" brings together in one volume translations, commentaries, and essays that illuminate the background of Giambattista Vico's major work. Thora Ilin Bayer and Donald Phillip Verene have collected a series of texts that help us to understand the progress of Vico's thinking, culminating in the definitive version of the New Science, which was published in 1744.

    Bayer and Verene provide useful introductions both to the collection as a whole and to the individual writings. What emerges is a clear picture of the decades-long process through which Vico elaborated his revolutionary theory of history and culture. Of particular interest are the first sketch of the new science from his earlier work, the Universal Law, and Vico's response to the false book notice regarding the first version of his New Science.

    The volume also includes additions to the 1744 edition that Vico had written out but that do not appear in the English translations-including his brief chapter on the "Reprehension of the Metaphysics of Descartes, Spinoza, and Locke"-and a bibliography of all of Vico's writings that have appeared in English. Giambattista Vico: Keys to the "New Science" is a unique and vital companion for anyone reading or rereading this landmark of Western intellectual history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5835-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Introduction: Interpreting the New Science
    (pp. 1-14)

    Giambattista Vico’s New Science was published in two versions, one in 1725 and another in 1730. In his Autobiography Vico refers to these as the First New Science and the Second New Science (A 192). Prior to the First New Science Vico published his three books of Universal Law (1720–22). In his Autobiography Vico describes these three books on jurisprudence as a sketch of his “new science”—a first version of the First New Science (A 193).

    Immediately after the appearance of the Second New Science, Vico began what would become several sets of “corrections, meliorations, and additions” that,...

  7. Part 1 Background of the New Science in the Universal Law (1720–1722)

    • Synopsis of Universal Law
      (pp. 17-38)

      In the 1720s, prior to the first version of his New Science (1725), Vico published three volumes in Latin grouped under the general Italian title Il diritto universale. To announce this work, Vico had printed four densely written pages in Italian that are untitled but are commonly called Sinopsi del diritto universale. This synopsis of Vico’s work on Universal Law appeared in July 1720. The first volume, De uno universi iuris principio et fine uno (On the One Principle and One End of Universal Law) followed in September. Between August and September 1721, Vico published the second volume, De constantia...

    • The True and the Certain: From On the One Principle and One End of Universal Law
      (pp. 39-44)

      The philosophical problem that Giambattista Vico finds in the law is the relationship of the true (verum) and the certain (certum)—that is, the connection that exists in the law between the law as rational and universally valid and the law as positive, historical (the product of human will deriving validity from authority as present in particular societies). He expresses this connection in the prologue and in chapters 82 and 83 of the first book of his Universal Law, On the One Principle and One End of Universal Law. The distinction between the true and the certain, as well as...

    • A New Science Is Essayed: From On the Constancy of the Jurisprudent
      (pp. 45-60)

      The second book of Giambattista Vico’s Universal Law, On the Constancy of the Jurisprudent, is divided into two major parts. The first is “On the Constancy of Philosophy,” and the second is “On the Constancy of Philology.” Vico begins this second part with a sketch of a “new science” that will be based on a reconception of philology. He introduces it as follows:

      The two sources of all that is knowable: intellect, will. As man consists of intellect and will, so whatever man knows comes from the human intellect or the human will. Thus whatever is termed ‘knowable’ is to...

    • On Homer and His Two Poems: From the Dissertations
      (pp. 61-72)

      The third book of Vico’s Universal Law contains, in addition to notes on the first two books, a series of short Dissertations. In his Autobiography Vico says he “read both the poems of Homer in the light of his principles of philology”; and by certain canons of mythology that he had conceived, he gives these poems an aspect different from that which they have hitherto borne, and shows how divinely the poet weaves into the treatment of his two subjects two groups of Greek stories, the one belonging to the obscure period and the other to the heroic, according to...

    • Vico’s Address to His Readers from a Lost Manuscript on Jurisprudence
      (pp. 73-82)

      In the Villarosa collection of Giambattista Vico’s manuscripts in the National Library in Naples there is an autograph of two sheets of paper, written on three sides in Latin, with the title “Ad Lectores Aequanimos.” I have examined these pages, which are written in Vico’s characteristically legible hand in neat lines. These pages are recognized as written in 1720 as part of a draft, now lost, of the Universal Law. In July of the same year Vico published the pamphlet “Synopsis of Universal Law,” announcing the two books of his work on jurisprudence, and in September the first book appeared...

  8. Part 2 Reception of the First New Science (1725)

    • Vico’s Reply to the False Book Notice: The Vici Vindiciae
      (pp. 85-136)

      In October 1725 Giambattista Vico published in Naples what he later in his Autobiography, called the First New Science (A 192–94). In August 1729, four years after its publication, there appeared in a bookstore in Naples an issue of the Leipzig Acta Eruditorum of August 1727, containing an anonymously written, malevolent notice of Vico’s book.¹ In the last half of November 1729 Vico printed a pamphlet with his regular publisher, Felice Mosca, containing his reply, with the title Notae in “Acta eruditorum lipsiensia,” which is usually cited by the other title that appears on its title page, Vici Vindiciae...

  9. Part 3 Additions to the Second New Science (1730/1744)

    • Vico’s “IGNOTA LATEBAT”: On the Impresa and the Dipintura
      (pp. 143-166)
      Donald Phillip Verene

      Giambattista Vico published the first edition of his New Science in October 1725. It has come to be known as the First New Science (Scienza nuova prima), the term that Vico himself applied to it in his Autobiography (A 192–94). The frontespizio, or what is commonly known in contemporary English-language books as the “title page,” contains (1) the title in full, Principj di una scienza nuova intorno alla natura delle nazioni per la quale si ritrouvano i principj di altro sistema del diritto naturale delle genti (Principles of a new science concerning the nature of nations by which are...

    • Vico’s Addition to the Tree of the Poetic Sciences and His Use of the Muses
      (pp. 167-178)

      [1199] these are the general aspects from which this science can be regarded. Indeed, from this first principle [religion, Jove] of all things divine and human of the gentiles, that which we have found within this metaphysics of the human race, this sublime science alone will give us the principles of all the other subaltern sciences [NS 367, 391], those which metaphysics must assure of the truth of all their particular subject matters. They are the primary thread with which the fabric of this book is woven and the first lines with which the design of our history of ideas...

    • Vico’s Reprehension of the Metaphysics of René Descartes, Benedict Spinoza, and John Locke
      (pp. 179-198)

      [1212] Therefore, if one does not begin from—“a god who to all men is Jove,”²—one cannot have any idea either of science or of virtue. Thus is easily dismissed the supposition of Polybius, who says that if there were philosophers in the world, there would be no need of religions!³ For the metaphysics of the philosophers must agree with the metaphysic of the poets, on this most important point, that from the idea of a divinity have come all the sciences that have enriched the world with all the arts of humanity: just as this vulgar [poetic] metaphysic...

  10. Appendix Vico’s Writings in English Translation
    (pp. 199-204)
  11. Index
    (pp. 205-209)
  12. The Editors
    (pp. 210-210)