Horst Steinke, Vico’s Ring. Notes on the“Scienza nuova”, its Structure, and the Hermeneutics of Homer’s Works
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Horst Steinke

96

that we have stressed, (1) the (initial) world of actual custom pre-

served through tradition (powerfully present in traditional socie-

ties/communities to this day), (2) an evolving body of legal prin-

ciples mediating between the real world, and (3) the ideal of true

equity

210

. This is also reflected in the block of material on the

ide-

al eternal history

of Axioms LXVI to XCVI (§§ 241-294) where the

mostly socio-political theoretical constructs, the

principles

211

, are

shown to receive their inspiration from actual historical devel-

opments

212

.

From the category-theoretic perspective, nonetheless, this

portrayal, however complex it appears in itself, tells only half the

story, at best, since the epistemic state of affairs is not simply a

matter of addition or sums of parts, lacking interaction, but ra-

ther of mutual dependence and productive engagement. Our

piecemeal approach of exposition is therefore intrinsically inade-

quate to properly convey the dynamic interactions that take place

at different levels, and different cycles and directions, just as an

anatomical investigation cannot come close to capturing a living

organism

213

. This fundamental shortcoming becomes highly

acute in bringing into the picture the other type of functor in-

volved,

contravariant functors

, going from right-to-left. In contrast

to the forgetful functors that have their ultimate source in the

phenomena of the real world, embracing all human culture, but

in which the socio-political sphere is Vico’s particular focus, the

starting point of contravariant functors is the realm/category of

“philosophy”. This is the point reached, therefore, at which to

quote the rest of § 140 of Axiom X: «This same axiom shows

[…] likewise how the latter [the philologians] failed by half in not

taking care to give their authority the sanction of truth (

averrare

)

by appeal to the reasoning (

Ragion

) of the philosophers»

214

. The

truth

and

reasoning

are of course the province of “philosophy”,

and, among other

truths

, contain Vico’s conclusions about man’s

ultimate nature, such as his sociability, sense of and desire for

justice, willfulness and ability or propensity to act, his finite mind