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The New Map of the World

The New Map of the World: The Poetic Philosophy of Giambattista Vico

Giuseppe Mazzotta
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 286
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvhpp
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  • Book Info
    The New Map of the World
    Book Description:

    For today's readers, the great Italian philosopher of history Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) can be startlingly relevant to the social and educational divisiveness we confront at century's end: here Giuseppe Mazzotta, one of the leading Italianists in the United States, shows how much Vico, properly read, can bring to an understanding of contemporary social problems. To explore Vico's body of thought in all its monumental complexity, Mazzotta highlights the place of poetry, or "writerliness," in Vico's educational project, which links literature, history, religion, philosophy, and politics. The New Map of the World is the first book since Benedetto Croce's The Philosophy of G. B. Vico (1911) to interpret the immense range of Vico's creativity.

    Beginning with Vico's autobiography, Mazzotta explains that Vico's heroic attempt to unite the arts and sciences was meant to offer a desperately needed political unity to modern society. In contrast to past thematic studies of Vico that focus on a single one of his ideas, The New Map of the World explores the vital interaction of the issues that fascinated him: his educational and political project, his sense of the necessity for a new way of conceiving authority, and his belief in the power of poetry. Mazzotta ends by examining Vico's awareness of the tragic limits of politics itself.

    Originally published in 1998.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6499-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. NOTE ON VICO’S TEXTS
    (pp. xvii-2)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-15)

    The title of this book, a variant of themappamundi, the map of the world, recalls first of all the globe in the frontispiece of theNew Science.Vico explains that the spherical globe, called “globo mondano” (NS/2), supported by an altar, is girt by a zodiacal belt, and it functions as the footstool for a woman with winged temples, who is identified as Metaphysics gazing at the luminous triangle with an all-seeing eye. The emblem is deciphered as the mind's contemplation of God’s Providence in the civil world or the world of nations.

    TheNew Scienceis explicidy concerned...

  7. Chapter 1 THE LIFE OF A PHILOSOPHER
    (pp. 16-39)

    We are all familiar with the external circumstances that led Vico to write hisAutobiography,whose title actually isVita scritta da sè medesimo.An adequate account of its origin is available in theAutobiographyitself: Count Gian Artico di Porcìa had launched a “Proposal to the Scholars of Italy” (Progetto ai letterati d’ltalia per scrivere Ie Ioro vite) in which he urged them to write their own autobiographies (or in the term Carlo Lodoli coined, “periautographies”). The overt impulse behind Porcia’s editorial initiative was unequivocally educational. The aim of each autobiography, as he envisioned it, was to make intelligible...

  8. Chapter 2 THE IDEA OF THE UNIVERSITY
    (pp. 40-64)

    Few innovative intellectuals of the seventeenth century produced their work from within the structure of an academic institution. Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz—to mention the names of the epochal figures of that period—were deeply committed to a new way of thinking about knowledge. They even took part in its worldwide dissemination, but they shunned the politics and constraints of the universities. The intellectual autonomy and diffusion of knowledge many of them sought was to be best achieved, so they thought, by following different routes of investigation and communication of knowledge. Some of them would compile, for instance,...

  9. Chapter 3 THE HISTORIAN OF MODERNITY
    (pp. 65-94)

    The first two chapters of this book have shown Vico as a scrupulous, deeply committed historian of himself and of his own times. TheAutobiographychronicles the history of Vico’s mind and the history of his ideas from the standpoint of a self who is by necessity the historian of himself. The necessity for a historical narrative of oneself lies in Vico’s own premise that any genuine self-knowledge is historical. Chapter 2, on the other hand, shows Vico’s reflections on education. Such a concern had long fascinated the humanists of the Italian Renaissance, whom he largely follows. The question of...

  10. Chapter 4 A POETIC ENCYCLOPEDIA
    (pp. 95-112)

    The texts so far examined show Vico’s mind steadily turning around questions of politics and knowledge. More precisely, theAutobiography, On the Heroic Mind,and theDe unoexemplify Vico’s conception of an encyclopedic organization of knowledge and his endorsement of the notion that to learn is to attain a global understanding of the world and of oneself. The necessity for weaving the sundry threads of knowledge into one fabric is announced by one phrase: “the whole is the flower of wisdom.” However, this search for the totalizing universe of learning is not simply a formal enterprise. As Vico states...

  11. Chapter 5 FROM THE MYTH OF EGYPT TO THE GAIA SCIENZA
    (pp. 113-139)

    The previous chapter has shown the encyclopedic conspectus of theNew Science,and it has argued that Vico’s new project of learning puts poetry at the center of the various sciences. Yet, although Vico makes poetry the grand key to theNew Science,the idea of the encyclopedia, as much as thepaideiaof the philosopher or the organization of the university curriculum, is cast within and depends on the framework of reason or on a philosophical scheme of thought. Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, is Vico then a rationalist, really no better off than his Neapolitan friends whom he...

  12. Chapter 6 THE HOMERIC QUESTION
    (pp. 140-161)

    Book III of Vico’sNew Scienceis devoted to what has come to be known as the “Homeric question” and to what Vico calls “Delia discoverta del vero Omero” (Of the Discovery of the True Homer).¹ This section of theNew Science,which in all likelihood is the single most well-known argument put forth by Vico in his text, is divided into two parts. The first part is titled, “Ricerca del vero Omero” (The Search for the True Homer); the second part is the “Discoverta del vero Omero.” Together—and the logical transition from the quest to the discovery of...

  13. Chapter 7 THE THEATER OF THE LAW
    (pp. 162-181)

    After discussing the Homeric question in Book III of theNew ScienceVico turns his attention to the “Course that Nations Run.” Once the question of poetry, the Homeric question, has been, so to speak, settled, Book IV can begin to tackle a vast and intricate range of concerns, namely, the question of law, its original foundation in poetry, and its links with force, power, and political forms. Throughout theNew ScienceVico’s thinking is at the boundary, at the crossroads where diverse branches of the human sciences—history, political institutions, language—meet and diverge. It is a thought that...

  14. Chapter 8 THE POLITICAL PHILOSOPHERS
    (pp. 182-205)

    Frequently in theNew ScienceVico refers to political philosophers, whom he calls “filosofi politici” (NS/1109) or “politici” (NS/522; 526; 588; 629). These references occur in discursive contexts (such as the “Conchiusione dell’Opera,” the “Iconomia Poetica,” and the “Politica Poetica”) in which Vico reflects on politics and on the value of ancient and modern political philosophies. This chapter explores both where Vico stands in the tradition of political philosophy and the political theory he carefully weaves in theNew Science.

    Vico’s “filosofi politici” is best understood in the light of what he calls “la materia della scienza politica” (the matter...

  15. Chapter 9 THE RICORSO: A NEW WAY OF SEEING
    (pp. 206-233)

    Book V of theNew Sciencefocuses on the theory of thericorsoof history. At its simplest, the centerpiece of this theory posits the recurrence or recourse, within the spiral movement of history, of the pertinent institutions of the past—forms of government, laws, modes of ownership, and so forth. To make clear that such a theory does not simply underwrite or re-propose the more conventional belief in the mechanically repetitive pattern of history, Vico refers to the recurrences between discontinuous but symmetrical stages of history as “correspondences” (NS/1046). There is a correspondence or recurrence of institutions between the...

  16. Chapter 10 THE BIBLE
    (pp. 234-256)

    From the very beginning of theNew ScienceVico rigorously keeps his investigations within the field of human activities. Only secular history, which is made by man, can legitimately be the object of knowledge. The dimensions of this profane knowledge are vast and they comprise, among others: poetry, the archaeology of rites and beliefs, juridical procedures and institutions, languages, customs, education, the vulgar figurations of natural theology, the human origin of religions and their political role. The foundation, indeed the emblem, of all human activities and human knowledge is poetry, which rises up from the anonymous and dark depths of...

  17. PRIMARY SOURCES
    (pp. 257-260)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 261-267)