Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  143 / 298 Next Page
Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 143 / 298 Next Page
Page Background

143

7.

LANGUAGE IN VICO:

“TOOL” OR “UNIVERSAL MEDIUM”?

As referred to above, Vico devoted a major section of Book

II (Section II, §§ 400-501) to “poetic logic [language]”, but a

number of Axioms of the “Elements” in Book I (clustered

among Axioms XLVIII-LXII, §§ 206-237) also deal with the

same subject, and the two treatments thus can be considered as

mutually complementary. In speaking of Vico’s philosophy of

language

293

, “Poetic Logic” allows us, and indeed requires, delin-

eating and delimiting the conceptual scope that Vico intended in

his reflections in

Scienza nuova.

Viewed against the background of

what may be taken as the general scope of “linguistics”

294

, it is

evident that he is highly selective in his treatment. One fails to

find theorizing on the obvious structural aspects of language,

well-known since antiquity, such as grammar, syntax, seman-

tics

295

, and pragmatics

296

. A close reading of “Poetic Logic”

shows that his theorizing is restricted to two specific areas: (1)

the “rhetorical” use of language, and (2) the origin of language

itself. In the first three “chapters” (§§ 402-427), the rhetorical

quality of language at the beginning is evidenced by «fables»,

«mythologies», and «allegories». In chapter II, devoted to

tropes

,

the use of figurative language, Vico singles out “metaphor” for

special attention: «The most luminous and therefore the most

necessary and frequent is metaphor» (§§ 404, 405)

297

. Far from

being concerned with matters of philology (in the technical

sense), for Vico this language has “originary” power, as he points

out in the final chapter VII (§§ 494-498), where he speaks of the

«first creators», «first founders of humanity», «first peoples, who

[…] founded first the world of the arts», doing so by the inven-