Horst Steinke, Vico’s Ring. Notes on the“Scienza nuova”, its Structure, and the Hermeneutics of Homer’s Works
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Vico’s Ring

199

views on science overall «the method of interpreting Nature» –

that need to be considered as moments of the deep structure of

his philosophy, but also the heuristic structure of the proposed

investigatory process, which he summarized as follows (italics

and labels added):

For the method of interpreting Nature consists essentially in compos-

ing a detailed study of Nature from which, as being the source of [1

st

kind of knowledge:] our

assured data

(

certis datis

), we can [2

nd

kind:]

deduce

the definitions

(

definitiones concludimus

). Now in exactly the same way the

task of Scriptural interpretation requires us to make a straightforward

study of Scripture, and from this, as the source of [1

st

kind:] our

fixed

data

(

certis datis

) and principles, to [2

nd

kind:]

deduce by logical inference

(

legit-

imis consequentiis concludere

) the

meaning of the authors

(

mentem autorum

) of

Scripture [

TTP

, p. 87].

The inserted labeling serves to highlight the fact that his

method reflects and, in fact, embodies his fundamental theory of

knowledge, as it could not do otherwise, including the seemingly

most basic or transparent level of heuristics, such as the term

«definition(s)». To cite just one relevant place in

Ethics

, in Part I,

Proposition XIX, Proof, a «definition» of a thing has for Spinoza

the deep sense of its essence and very nature, the epitome of

which is «God» himself, or «substance, which necessarily exists,

[…] or follows from its definition»

420

. This then constitutes the

inherently Spinozan

421

sense of «definition» in which his further

statement in the first section is to be read: «Therefore, just as

definitions of the things of nature must the inferred from the

various operations of Nature, in the same way definitions must

be elicited from the various Biblical narratives as they touch on a

particular subject» (

TTP

, p. 88).

The partitioning of knowledge-acquisition into the first and

second kinds of knowledge, both for the physical sciences and

the study of Scripture

422

, at this incipient stage, sets up the matrix

or structural pattern for the more specific, fine-grained, analysis