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Vico’s Ring


tions above on the arts in various cultures, their characterizations

are related to, and integrated into, his overall scheme of cultural



. In Vico studies, it is at times observed that all of

human cultural activities came under his purview


. Thus, the

(unexpected) omission of the visual arts in Book II may suggest a

measure of caution in any summary evaluation of Book II. Be-

fore drawing any specific conclusions, however, it could be use-

ful to examine the role that “economics” plays in Vico’s sweep-

ing account of «poetic wisdom».

Above it was suggested that economics was an area that Vico

either failed to include in Book II, or only treated lightly. This

claim seems to be in direct contradiction of Section IV, entitled

«Poetic Economy»


. However, a few brief excerpts from the

beginning of the section provide an idea of the direction or

thrust of Vico’s “economic” terminology:

The heroes apprehended with human senses those two truths which

make up the whole of economic doctrine (la

dottrina Iconomica


), which

were preserved in the two Latin verbs




. […] the first

of these applies to the education of the spirit and the second to that of

the body (§ 520). […] As for the other part of household discipline


Disciplina Iconomica


), the education of bodies, the fathers with their

frightful religions, their cyclopean authority, and their sacred ablutions

began to educe, or bring forth, from the giant bodies of their sons the

proper human form (§ 524). […] In the very birth of [domestic] econ-

omy (



), they fulfilled it in its best idea, which is that the fa-

thers by labor and industry should leave a patrimony to their sons, so

that they may have an easy and comfortable and secure subsistence,

even if foreign commerce should fail, or even all the fruits of civil life,

or even the cities themselves, so that in such last emergencies the fami-

lies at least may be preserved, from which there is hope that the na-

tions may rise again (§ 525)



The focus is thus on the identification of the family unit, both

in its nuclear and extended forms, as the fundamental entity of