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


true in the laws (Il

Vero delle Leggi

) is a certain light and splendor

with which natural reason (la

Ragion Naturale

) illuminates



. But Vico also was conscious of the aporetic potential:

«To be useful to the human race, philosophy must raise and di-

rect weak and fallen man, not rend his nature or abandon him in

his corruption» (Axiom V, § 129); «Philosophy considers man as

he should be and so can be of service to but very few […]» (Axi-

om VI, § 131).

In certain ways, it might be tempting to simply speak of “in-

duction” and “deduction”, but that would miss the complexity of

the process which needs to be seen as synchronous


. It is not

the case that propositions in “philology” can be, and are, “de-

duced” from fundamental ideas in “philosophy”, as can been

seen in trying to relate the (selective) listings of the contents of

both spheres above (see Part I). Rather, “philosophical” ideas

undergo a transformation – as if caught in a pincer movement –

as they are turned into theoretical constructs under the sway of

both already established constructs, in the right-to-left direction,

and, just as importantly, under the constantly corrective pressure

of the facts of the real world, in the left-to-right direction. This

latter phenomenon comes into play by way of the forgetful func-

tor from the world of humans to the sphere of “philology”; in

the development of theoretical concepts that respect fundamen-

tal “philosophical” insights, and are thus truth-preserving, still,

any number of notions, regardless of how rational they appear,

will need to be discarded in the harsh light, not of historical reali-


per se



but of concepts that have been derived from them



In this manner, the potential for the kind of aporia that Vico re-

ferred to might be substantially lessened. The systematic inclu-

sion of this functor in the epistemic process also helps to put Vi-

co’s polemic with some of the great theorists of early modernity

in perspective, including socio-political thinkers (Hobbes, Spino-

za, Bayle), but most importantly juridical theorists (Grotius, Puf-

endorf, Selden


). In effect, he subjects their theories to this