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Vico’s Ring


could be made about a host of current language in relation to original early

modern usage; whereas the early moderns spoke of “natural philosophy”, to-

day “science” is the accepted term despite the anachronism of projecting the

modern scientific outlook and mentality back to the earlier age in every re-

spect. There is virtually no term that is immune to anachronistic usage, includ-

ing, for example” “intuition” and “imagination”. It took up an entire mono-

graph to elucidate the multifaceted history of the idea of “imagination” (see

M. Sanna,


, Naples, Alfredo Guida, 2007). However, the prob-

lem has proved to be “manageable”, even as perfect solutions remain elusive.

A more complex, even contentious, though not unrelated, problem arises

when entirely new terminology is introduced for which no reference to specif-

ic original language can be found. This issue is brought to the fore in the fol-

lowing contributions in

The Philosophy of Jaakko Hintikka

, ed. by R. E. Auxier

and L. E. Hahn, Chicago-LaSalle, Illinois, Open Court, 2006: S. Knuuttila,

Hintikka’s View of the History of Philosophy

, pp. 87-105; J. Hintikka,

Reply to Simo


, pp. 106-112; G. Motzkin,

Hintikka’s Ideas about the History of Ideas

, pp.

113-131; J. Hintikka,

Reply to Gabriel Motzkin

, pp. 132-135. Specifically, the is-

sue is whether it is legitimate to «notice that the arguments [in historical texts]

include assumptions that are not explicitly formulated and that the author

takes for granted» (Knuuttila, p. 98). Hintikka’s response is affirmative: «By

identifying other philosophers’ presuppositions, we can in fact sometimes as-

cribe to them views that they themselves did not express and sometimes

would have denied if they had been proposed to them» (Hintikka, p. 109).

With respect to the early modern era, it could be argued that key thinkers

could not be properly understood without recognizing and articulating their

unexpressed presuppositions; as A. Funkenstein pointed out, for example,

such unstated metaphysical assumptions included so-called “univocity” and

“homogeneity” (Id.,

Theology and the Scientific Imagination from the Middle Ages to

the Seventeenth Century

, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1986,

pp. 25-31; see also D. R. Lachterman,

The Physics of Spinoza’s ETHICS

, cit., pp.

82-83, with respect to assumed “homogeneity” in Spinoza’s thought). The

anachronistic – but not ahistorical – introduction of the univocity concept

proves to be indispensable, for example, in pinpointing Vico’s position of the



-univocity of





Liber metaphysicus

, as P.

Fabiani insisted on: «Fisico e metafisico devono quindi essere tenuti ben dis-

tinti (Therefore, physics and metaphysics need to be kept clearly separate)»


Classificazione delle scienze e principio dell’errore

, in

Studi sul “De antiquissima

Italorum sapientia” di Vico

, ed. by G. Matteucci, Macerata, Quodlibet, 2002, p.