Eryn – paper #3

Italian philosopher and author, Giambattista Vico, was a man who used his text, The New Science of Giambattista Vico,  to speak to sophisticated individuals. Rather than traditionally teaching his audience he showed them authentic research that was driven by facts and fables. The author, who used sense to seek understanding, repeatedly used God as the core foundation to show his readers that human life was purposefully constructed. Vicco did not intend to create an argument or beat around the bush, but instead he wanted to expose his readers to the truth, which was that like mathematics, life was intentionally designed.

From the beginning of his book, Vicco used God as a piece of evidence to provide the foundation of worldly accepted principles. He laid out this foundation by starting from scratch and using evidence from the beginning of time- the creation of man. “We should begin our study by scientifically ascertaining this important starting-point…which takes its start from the fact that the first people of the world were the Hebrews, whose prince was Adam, created by the true God…”(p 33/51). From here Vicco continued to write that the “Hebrew religion was founded by the true God”(68/167), due to His creation of His people. He used these examples to show readers that the human race must have been created. Once created, God intended for events to occur in people’s lives, choices to make, and paths to choose. He further explored this idea and stated “the flood was world-wide is proved”. This serves as an example of a intentional occurrence rather than a creation because God created the people, the water, the land, etc. but intended a world wide floor to occur in their lives.
Unfortunately, all readers do not believe in God, which lead to Vicco’s exploration of wisdom. Grecian theological poets were “versed in this wisdom”, which explained why “the Latins called the judicial astrologers ‘professors of wisdom’”(111/365). Although these men were wise, “the word ‘wisdom’ came to mean the knowledge of the natural divine…which is seeking knowledge of man’s mind in God, and recognizing God as the source of all truth…the regulator of all good”(111/365). Thus said, the “knowledge of man’s mind in God” is truly dependent on what God intends to insert into man’s mind.

Furthermore, God does intend to insert certain wisdom into the human mind, however, what man chooses to do with that wisdom is entirely up to him. For example, when the Hebrews “lost sight of their natural law during their slavery in Egypt” God had to redirect His people to the correct path through Moses (125/317). In other words, God did not create the wrong path that mankind chose, however, because of this He intended for Moses to guide the Hebrews back to the life He originally intended them to live.

Although God intended the Hebrews to follow the divine law, the correct knowledge of God and his intentions would not be of any help either. For instance, God does not intend to tell us his intentions, for man must battle to follow His divine law and from there man can learn them. Yet if man truly believes that he contains God’s knowledge, he must humble himself. Vicco warned readers, “just as on the other hand arrogance will lead them to atheism”(143/502), or even to praise ancient Roman gods(172/506).

In conclusion, The New Science of Giambattista Vico is a piece of work that shows, rather than argues, his audience that life was intentionally designed. By using biblical references to piece together evidence, Vicco ultimately succeeded his goal. This work became so successful because he used familiar facts, such as the flood and the slavery in Egypt, to back up his belief rather than arguing that he is correct.

One thought on “Eryn – paper #3

  1. Eryn,

    This is a solid attempt to address Vico’s intention in the NS.

    I think you are right to suggest that history is directed for Vico. Providence moves through history, intending things but not doing them–while human beings do things but don’t intend them. This is similar to what several philosophers in the Scottish Enlightenment (David Hume, Adam Smith, etc.) say: nations stumble upon their establishments and that sort of thing.

    Vico does indeed suggest that the flood was universal and that this is obvious from all the archaeological evidence as well as the ubiquity of flood myths. So the Old Testament becomes a historical resource for him (though he does not take it literally, since it is not the literal speech of the Age of men).

    What God means for him is a difficult problem. As best as I can tell, he does mean the God of the Christian religion. But I am not sure of that; he may be a deist rather than a theist.

    As I mentioned in class, I think it is correct to suggest that somehow Vico is showing a position, ultimately, than arguing one in the NS. There are plenty of philological and philosophical arguments, of course, but overall I think the book is not an argument. It appeals more to the imagination.

    There are minor typographical errors (e.g., “Vicco”). Be sure to proofread.


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