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Vico’s Ring


in law» (Chapter 16, § 1). Another nonnegotiable Vichian tenet is

human free will: «The principles of law […] are […] the light of

the divine countenance whose mark all humans have, and they

immutably protect the freedom of the human will» (Chapter 17,

§ 4).

In addition to these anthropological constants that are at the

root of «natural law»


, Vico classifies the concept of law as be-

longing to the sphere of “philosophy”. In Chapter 19 (consisting

of a single paragraph), Vico concurs with Plato


that «laws must

be classified as eternal things because they are not bodies nor do

they belong to bodies. The metaphysics of universal law rests on

this distinction […] the noncorporeal is perceived by the intel-

lect». In other words, «[l]aws are spiritual entities or have the

mode of a spiritual entity» (Chapter 20).

This reading of


enables us to get a firmer grip on

Vico’s terminology of “philosophy” as intended in

Scienza nuova


Without exhausting its scope and depth, “philosopy” is Vico’s

view of human nature, the workings of the human mind directed

toward eternal truth and reason, its finiteness (Chapter 4, § 11),

the «natural disposition for society», and an innate sense of jus-

tice. Among eternal truths, the concept of (universally valid) law

is singled out by Vico by virtue of its direct relationship to the

social nature of humans (Chapter 20).

Thus, Vico’s discursing on “philosophy” in


(and, of

course, read in conjunction with

De uno

, Book I of

Diritto univer-


) provides the expanded and more fully articulated version of

Axiom X («Philosophy contemplates reason, whence comes

knowledge of the true»). It supplies a lens through which to pe-

ruse the Axioms with a view to identifying them in terms of their

“philosophical” or “philological” character. While Vico’s mean-

ing of the latter remains to be dealt with, what we already under-

stand regarding his “philosophy” can be useful in singling out

“philosophical” Axioms. The following represents a short cross