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Horst Steinke


than staying strictly on the subject of the genesis of language in

Section II, “Poetic Logic”


Vico already addresses his schema of

«three kinds of languages» (§§ 432-446) that is formally the sub-

ject of Section V of Book IV


. An examination of the surface

structure of the two Books also makes it immediately apparent

that the last sections of Book II are missing in Book IV, on


ics, cosmography, astronomy, chronology, geography



While Book IV is

silent about possible reasons for the exclusion, in Book II, Vico,

however, himself provides a basis for differential treatment, or,

equivalently, non-treatment, in Book IV of the various individual

areas or aspects that in totality make up “Poetic Wisdom”. In §

367, he writes:

From this [a crude metaphysics], as from a trunk, there branch out

from one limb logic, morals, economics, and politics, all poetic; and

from another, physics, the mother of cosmography and astronomy, the

latter of which gives their certainty to the two daughters, chronology

and geography – all likewise poetic.

What matters to us most in this statement, in our argumenta-

tive context, is the grouping of the various “poetic” disciplines

and their underlying areas of human life, by means of the simile

of a tree and branches


. The last five “poetic” factors are sepa-

rated out from the rest and assigned to a different subdivision of

the “tree”, a caesura that follows a certain taxonomic logic, if the

first grouping or branch is seen as “cultural” factors vs. the sec-

ond group, as “physical/naturalistic” elements originating in the

biophysical world


. Against this background, the omission in

Book IV of the last few sections of Book II is not necessarily



but has a systematic aspect to it in that it involves precisely

those factors, and only those factors, that are not strictly “cultur-




There are a total of eleven


sections in segment C’;

they, too,

like the sections of Book II, range over a broad array of mat-



. The headings of the sections, on their own, would seem