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Horst Steinke


trays key elements of their philosophies as being inspired and

prompted by reflection on Athenian legal discourse and thought

(§§ 1041-1042). He boldly sums up: «From all the above we con-

clude that these principles of metaphysics, logic, and morals is-

sued from the market place of Athens» (§ 1043)



This brief sketch will have to suffice as a basis for arguing the

postulated connection with the “Elements, Principles, Method”.

We begin with the observation on how the third section of seg-



makes explicit reference to segment


, § 137 that reads:

«Men who do not know what is


of things take care to hold

fast to what is


(italics added). This statement is found in

the first part of the “Elements” which introduces Vico’s con-

cepts of “philosophy” and “philology”. “Philosophy” and “phi-

lology” are actually the disciplines that concern themselves with



and the


: «Philosophy contemplates reason, whence

comes knowledge of the


; philology observes that of which

human choice is author, whence comes consciousness of the



(§ 138; italics added)


. We thus encounter the first of sever-

al tie-ins between these segments of the work. The contrast and

interplay between “philosophy” and “philology” is not limited to

the “Elements”, but also permeates the subsequent “Principles”

and “Method” (e.g. §§ 330, 338, 351, 359). Vico devoted more

than half of the “Elements” to specifying the content and scope

of both “philosophy” and “philology”. In the “Principles”, he

identifies three invariants across civilizations and throughout his-

tory: religion, marriage, and funerals, and explores their origins in

“Method”, as an example of the need, and challenge, of going

back to the beginnings of civilization (§ 338).

The second major area of contact becomes visible when the

first segment is examined through the eyes of the first part of



which comprises §§ 980-1008. As stated above, it

deals with the development of legal protections of “rights” in the

“heroic”/aristocratic Greek and Roman societies. Forms of gov-

ernance are also a key theme of the “Elements”, and in fact oc-