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Vico’s Ring


to speak of diversity and even heterogeneity. A close reading of

each section, on the other hand, shows that there is a common

thread to all of them: each factor, in its eventual long-drawn-out

historical working out («the course the nations run»), is associat-

ed with the sociopolitical-governmental framework of human

civilization, if not to an exclusive degree, then predominantly at

their core


. Through a prism thus faceted, certain parts of Book

II stand out particularly; their inordinate extensiveness relative to

the whole of Book II, and to the surrounding parts, can be rec-

ognized as being a function of their centrality. This is the case

most directly for Section V of Book II, “Poetic Politics”, that

discurses about many of the topics taken up in Book IV. How-

ever, the backward-looking references of Book IV are not re-

stricted to the section on “Poetic Politics” but encompass also

the immediately preceding section on “Poetic Economy” which

deals with the structure and order of the archaic household as

the first civic institution


. In this perspective, the encyclopedic

breadth of Book II reveals itself as possessing more structure

and intentionality than may be apparent at first



The only other subject matter of comparable breadth and

depth in Book II is language, found in Section II, entitled “Poet-

ic Logic” (§§ 400-501). However, also in connection with this

fundamental characteristic of human civilization, Vico does not

lose sight of its relation to, and role in, creating institutions of a

civic nature, as the conditions of possibility of other cultural



. An exposition of Vico’s philosophy of language

has to be cognizant of the nexus of language and sociopolitical

world, even if

prima facie

philosophy of language is studied

sui gen-



. Due to the position of language at the core of Vico’s re-

flections, both ontologically and on the basis of its (literary) arti-

facts, certain aspects of his philosophy of language merit closer

attention, particularly since they seem to be associated with some

ambiguity in Vico studies. This will therefore be taken up in the

next section.