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Horst Steinke


While Vico’s reference, in § 245, to axioms about the ideal eternal history

that preceded Axiom LXVIII did not specify which Axioms he had in mind,

in the subsequent statement about Axioms applicable to the ideal eternal his-

tory, in § 294, appended to Axiom XCVI, he specifically names Axiom LXVI

as marking the beginning of principles. We opt therefore to exclude Axiom

LXV from consideration, and thus, to sidestep the issue of tension that oth-

erwise ensues.


S. Otto commented: «Ma la sua assiomatica distingue chiaramente pro-

posizioni scientifiche, filosofiche e filologiche, separa nettamente gli asserti sul

“certo” da quelli sul “vero”» (But his [Vico’s] axiom system clearly distingui-

shes between scientific, philosophical, and philological propositions, and in an

orderly way separates the statements about “the certain” from those about

“the true”)» (Id.,

Un assioma




della Scienza nuova

come principio-guida




per la “critica della ragione storica

”, trans. by B. Giordano, in «BCSV»,

XXII-XXIII, 1992-1993, pp. 103-117, pp. 116-117.


Under this Axiom, in § 163, he makes the epexegetical statement, noted

in footnote 140 above, about Axioms V-XV as belonging to the


i.e. “phi-

losophy”; he then characterizes Axioms XV[I]-XXII as «the foundations of

the certain»; by using the contrasting term


, he identifies them as part of

what he considers “philology”. He further draws this distinction by adding:

«By their use we shall be able to see

in fact

this world of nations which we have


in idea

» (italics added, but the original Italian «

in fatti»

and «

in idea

» are

in italics. See

La Scienza nuova


Le tre edizioni

, cit., p. 865). The Marsh transla-

tion of

Scienza nuova

paraphrases this passage as follows: «Axioms 16-22 […]

we shall use to interpret the world of nations in its historical reality, just as we

have contemplated it in its ideal form».

It is at this point, in connection with the topic of the


, that Vico

credits Bacon with «the best ascertained method of philosophizing (giusta il

metodo di filosofare

più accertato)», with specific reference to Bacon’s methodo-

logical treatise

Cogitata et visa

. We will leave aside the possible word play on








). According to Rossi (

Francis Bacon

, cit., pp.

205-207), Bacon proposed, and developed (in his entire


), a «theory of

natural classifications for the organization and ordering of instances to enable

the intellect to find its way through nature’s chaos and profusion». Vico clear-

ly had such a «natural classification» in mind when he contrasted Bacon’s «in-

stitutions of nature» with his own «civil institutions of mankind».

Furthermore, there is another important aspect or feature of Bacon’s phi-

losophy of science that has a bearing on Vico’s approach, as explained by

Rossi: «The traditional method, writes Bacon, skips from a smattering of sen-

sually perceived particulars to the most generalized conclusions and then in-