Horst Steinke, Vico’s Ring. Notes on the“Scienza nuova”, its Structure, and the Hermeneutics of Homer’s Works
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Horst Steinke


an terminology, for example, by Bacon, Descartes, and Spinoza,

however, it has not been possible to make the case that Vico fol-

lowed in their steps


. And it is this difference, this divergence,

which may provide a mode of access to Vico’s choice of Euclid-

ean language. Of special interest in this regard is Spinoza’s


due to its tightly managed axiomatic development. It is hoped

that a characterization of Spinoza’s work will provide the requi-

site means of comparing and/or contrasting Vico’s handling of

the axiomatic method.


The terminology of “philosophy” and “philology” as used in Scien-

za nuova

. One of the key statements is without doubt that «the

philosophers failed […] in not giving certainty to their reasonings

by appeal to the authority of the philologians, and likewise […]

the latter failed […] in not taking care to give their authority the

sanction of the truth by appeal to the reasoning of the philoso-

phers» (§ 140). Apart from ascertaining Vico’s intended meaning

of each term, this raises the question of their relationship. It has

been variously described as «unidad (unity)», «allianza (alliance)»,



(re-conjunction)», «


virtuosa (virtuous



)», «reciproco (reciprocal)», and as «




. In these

notes, an attempt will be made to place these two key approaches

in Vico’s overall epistemological framework, in fact, within the

formal (i.e. the tripartite) framework that he already developed in

Liber metaphysicus

. In other words, do “philosophy” and “philolo-

gy” have analogous counterparts (to “metaphysics” – “mathe-

matics” – “physics”) in the earlier work, and if so, in what re-



Vico’s hermeneutics of the Homeric texts in Book III of Scienza


. It has been a staple of Vichian scholarship – with notable

exceptions, of course – to hold that Vico emulated Spinoza in

his approach to, and investigative methodology of, ancient texts,

in Spinoza’s case the text being the Hebrew Bible, and particular-

ly the Pentateuch


. The point of view that we will pursue here re-

lates to this question only tangentially, not directly. Our main in-