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


cal obstacle


after another in the path of «achiev[ing] a greater

understanding of its true meaning (

vero sensu

)», stating that

we either have no knowledge at all or but doubtful knowledge of the

authors […], we do not know on what occasion or at what time these

books of unknown authorship were written. Furthermore, we do not

know into whose hands all these books fell, or in whose copies so

many different readings were found, nor yet again whether there were

not many other versions in other hands. […] Deprived of all these

facts we cannot possibly know what was, or could have been, the au-

thor’s intention. […] In the case of certain books […], we do not pos-

sess them in the language in which they were first written [citing the

Gospel of Matthew


Epistle to the Hebrews


Book of Job




It is difficult not to be overwhelmed by the cumulative impact

of this “blow-by-blow” series of «difficulties». We are thus led

along to arrive at the conclusion that the research program as

originally conceived, in actuality has little if any chance of suc-

ceeding, or stated somewhat more strongly, and likely more ac-

curately, given that all the requisite pieces of information/data

are irretrievably lost, we are deprived of even the first kind of

knowledge as the “raw material” to begin developing the second

kind of knowledge by means of scientific reasoning


. His con-

cluding explanatory comments on the subject of studies of the

authors, historical backgrounds, and the integrity of the biblical

“books” shed additional light on the vantage point from which

he approaches such biblical studies. He contrasts biblical studies

with «matters open to intellectual perception, whereof we can

readily form a clear conception (

res, quas et intellectu assequi, et

quarum clarum possumus facile formare conceptum

)». «Intellect» and

«clear conception» are Spinozan code for the intellectual ability,

and the entities within its ambit, that are uniquely associated with

the exercise of «intuitive knowledge». To illustrate their stark

contrast with the unresolvable uncertainties and unknowables of

biblical studies, Spinoza makes the comparison with Euclid and