Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  67 / 298 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 67 / 298 Next Page
Page Background





Benedetto Croce, a century ago, with commendable candor

put into words what any reader of

Scienza nuova

might be forgiv-

en for feeling about Vico’s use of the terms “philosophy” and



, writing in the classic

The Philosophy of Giambattista


: «The lack of clearness on the relation of philosophy to phi-

lology, and the failure to distinguish between the two quite dif-

ferent ways of conceiving the reduction of philology to a science,

are at once the consequences and the causes of the obscurity

which prevails in the “New Science”»


. Croce here, in fact, does

us the service of pinpointing the two challenges we are facing: (1)

understanding how Vico conceived the relationship between

“philosophy” and “philology”, and (2) the distinction between

them, or what different types of knowledge fall under each of

them. While Croce chose to raise the question of their relation-

ship first, it is obvious that an answer to that question needs to

be deferred until it is more clearly seen what “philosophy” and

“philology” actually mean in Vico’s discourse. We will therefore

make an attempt at examining the latter first.

In Axiom X (§§ 138-140), Vico provided one of the more ex-

plicit circumlocutions of both disciplines:


contemplates reason, whence comes knowledge of the true;


observes that of which human choice is author, whence comes

consciousness of the certain.

This axiom by its second part [i. e.


] includes among the philol-

ogists all the grammarians, historians, critics, who have occupied them-

selves with the study of the languages and deeds of peoples: […] their