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Horst Steinke


customs and laws, […] their wars, peaces, alliances, travels, and com-

merce (italics added).

In order to remain consistent with the recognition of the deep

juridical roots of Vico’s thought, it behooves us to again bring

Diritto universale

into the discussion, especially since the two Parts

of Book II, entitled

De constantia iurisprudentiae


On the Constancy of

the Jurisprudent



prominently feature the two expressions, both

in their titles and contents: the First Part,

De Constantia philoso-



On the Constancy of Philosophy



for short)


, and the

Second Part,

De Constantia philologiae


On the Constancy of Philology



for short)



In the broadest terms,


lays down “theological” and

philosophical foundations for the rule of law, but it is incumbent

to note the specific ways(s) in which Vico does so in order to

trace, and keep track of, the “red thread”


that runs from




Scienza nuova.

It is actually the very first chapter, in

fact, even the chapter heading, that declares the parameters of

his “philosophical” agenda: «a correct consciousness of one’s

own nature», which is then further described (Chapter 1, § 1) as

«knowledge of our nature, that is, to know, to will, and to be able

to do»


. Thus Vico is highly selective in his anthropology; in the

ensuing multifaceted discussion, he never strays far from these

three basic constituents, «to know» (i.e. the human mind), «to

will» (i.e. free will), and «to be able to do» (i.e. through the body).

As point of departure for grasping the full meaning of these es-

sential human characteristics, Vico holds up «Adam before the

fall» attributing to him the possession of «a pure mind» (Chapter

4, §§ 3-6). Such purity of mind included being free from the er-

rors induced by the senses and passions, on the one hand, and

displaying true piety («love toward God»), on the other hand, ex-

pressed in a life devoted to truth and love of all people, treating

the elderly as one would treat one’s parents, peers as one’s own

siblings, younger ones as one’s own children. For Vico, the state

of the human mind was not merely intellectuality but directly as-