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Horst Steinke


mind is the seat and home of eternal truths» (Chapter 5, §§ 2, 3).

He rejects Stoicism on the basis of its refusal to recognize hu-

man free will, as well as Epicurus’ teaching that «there is only

one category of things, namely body, and whatever is not corpo-

real is void, or nothing» (Chapters 6, 7).

Epicurus comes in for more reproach since as a logical result

of his metaphysics, «[he] did not recognize that the choice of

pleasures must be performed by the mind and cannot be per-

formed by the senses. The choice and comparison of bodies

cannot be an attribute of nothing, since nothingness has no at-

tributes» (Chapter 14, § 2). In contrast to these «gentile/pagan

philosophers», but excepting Plato, Vico holds up «Christian

metaphysics» and «Christian morality» (Chapters 3, 8) as being

«in conformity to truth and reason» since «Christian wisdom […]

commands love for God and charity because of God toward

everyone, whether they are strangers, […] deserving or undeserv-

ing, or even enemies» (Chapter 12, §§ 1-3; Chapter 15, § 5)


. It

is hard to improve on Vico’s own succinct summary of his an-

thropology that registers his key determinants of human nature,

«to know, to will, and to be able to do» (Chapter 1, § 1). «As we

meditate on eternal truths with our corrupt mind as much as our

fallen nature permits, we might be able to act in accordance with

eternal truth» (Chapter 15, § 4).

This brief synopsis started with pointing out Vico’s concern

with the philosophical underpinnings of intersubjectivity and

humans as members of community; in the last chapters of



(Chapters 16-20)


he comes back full circle to the subject and

question of the rule of law


, which after all is the title and sub-

ject of the Book as a whole. Here we choose to highlight only

the following invariants in Vico’s anthropology having a direct

bearing on matters of law and jurisprudence. The first is Vico’s

assertion, right at the beginning of this section, that «human be-

ings are naturally social and that this natural disposition for soci-

ety was planted in us by God through the eternal idea of equity