New Science
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New Science

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  327 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Although Vico lived his whole life as an obscure academic in Naples, his New Science is an astonishingly ambitious attempt to provide a comprehensive science of all human society by decoding the hitory, mythology, and law of the ancient world. "My imagination grows every time I read Vico as it doesn't when I read Freud or Jung."—James Joyce.
Paperback, 560 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1725)
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I can't imagine what Vico was thinking when he wrote his observations. I've never read anything that contains so many seeds of future thought. Marx! Darwin! Chomsky! Freud! Durkheim! Nietzsche! Foucault! Adorno! Rorty! You're all here! No wonder everyone from James Joyce to Edward Said has cited Vico as an overriding influence. OK, so he's an ultra-Catholic who believes in giants and refers to obscure Romans. I'm OK with that. He lived in different times. Regardless, I feel like I'm gaining insi...more
Amazing. Over 250 years ago Vico laid the ground work for a huge amount of modern social/critical thought. His analysis of human culture based on language and physical geography, his refusal to glorify the past by drawing attention to the ridiculous ways we try project our own mental states onto distant history, his identification and analysis of the origins and evolution of human institutions, his analysis of conflict arising from the desparities between ultra wealthy citizens and common plebia...more
Three ages, mythic, heroic, and human, matched with their own concepts of knowledge production, including, early, the poetic. The master tropes that Vico identifies match up with K. Burke's master tropes, which are, in both rhetoricians' arguments, a kind of reasoning (cf 404-409). Because anceint minds couldn't conceive of abstracts, they invented poetic forms, "certain models or ideal portraits" like Hermes the civil sage (209 and 767-8). The first fables, Vico says, were history (817)Claims t...more
I first read Giambattista Vico while studying James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, which employs Vichian concepts in its organization. Inasmuch as the history of the Jewish peoples is recorded in the Bible, in The New Science Vico reconstructs the history of the non-Jewish peoples, the Gentiles. His unconventional approach to this history involves the analysis of Classical myths, etymology and figures of speech. He is thought to be one of the first “modern” historians.
stunning. it documents and challenges the conventionaly view of history as we may have been taught. it is very religious in places and some of the theories are a bit bizarre but this is a really rich book and full of juicy bits of information. the stufy of words and why certain things were called what they were (roman and greek origins of words mainly) fascinated me enormously. it reminded me of a more eloquent and arty and slightly left field version of jared diamonds guns, germs and steel. it...more
It is only going to work if you make the imaginative effort to see that this book was written by a professional academic in Naples in 1744 and its author had no immediate plans to get sacked or imprisoned. I personally sense that the accommodations required to remain safe within orthodox Catholic teaching sometimes show in the strained lines of reasoning used to achieve this. I can even imagine some highly educated Jesuit rolling his eyes at it - maybe less strain would have sufficed after all....more
Max Nemtsov
Из-под пера (гусиного, не иначе) Вико выходит очень уютный мир, понятный и разложенный по полочкам. Его любовь к систематизации чарует. Но это и объяснимо - будучи лириком, он так пытается попросту не сойти с ума от непостижимости того, что ему предшествовало и что его окружает. А рехнуться было с чего. Недаром он стоит особняком в культурном пейзаже своего времени - как метафизик, антирационалист и, вообще говоря, предтеча постмодернизма. Ироничен он донельзя - взять, к примеру, параграф 301 пр...more
Josh Brown
So this book is in turns repetitive, dogmatic, and insightful. Somehow its insistence on being "systematic", and finding these grand parallels everywhere, gets in the way of the more inquisitive (and, admittedly speculative) moments. The etymological musings, the notion of a "mental dictionary" and the development story about language and culture were certainly thought-provoking though at times a bit silly and forced. The final two books seemed largely either repetitive or simply an affirmation...more
This will seriously bore you unless you are interested in Joyce, linguistics, philology, scholarly studies. I read it during my Joyce phase.
Chris Johnson
The text itself of the New Science consists of an overview, “Idea of the Work,” coupled with a picture depicting a female figure, Metaphysics, standing on a globe of the Earth and contemplating a luminous triangle containing the eye of God, or Providence. Below stands a statue of Homer representing the origins of human society in "poetic wisdom." This is followed by five Books and a Conclusion, the first of which, "Establishment of Principles,” establishes the method upon which Vico constructs,...more
I'll give it 4 stars for two reasons: the first fault is mine, because I obviously didn't have enough knowledge of Roman history to follow all of his examples properly. As I result, I was frequently gasping for him to share a new theory or idea-- but when I did know what they examples were it was all very fascinating and invigorating. So I hope to come back to this.

If it wasn't for that, I'd give this 5, but it's probably worth noting that Vico's brilliant and everything, but some of his argumen...more
What a fantastic book. It's difficult at times to know when to hone in and when to pull back, but it's also fascinating to see the threads of modernity and postmodernity present in his analysis.
Wyatt Kaldenberg
Vico, like most great writers, is hard to read. I don't agree with all of his ideas. He is very Christian and hostile to our faith and polytheistic people. However, many of his ideas are very profound. All Odinists should read Vico, along with Plato's Republic, Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West in order to understand why the West is in the mess it is today. Vico gave a very good defense of feudalism.
I had to abandon this one several hundred pages in while staying in a remote cabin on the Upper Russian Lake in Alaska - that's saying something. I scribbled this line on the inside cover in the darkness: A cross between Pico della Mirandola and Ted Koszinski, minus the style of the former and the intelligence of the later, or vice versa. The blurb on the back cover makes claims that Vico had significant influence on the likes of Marx and Joyce; the connection is tenuous I would hazard.
"For it is an invariable property that, when human affairs appear to lack reason and even to contradict it, people resign themselves to the inscrutable counsels hidden in the abyss of divine providence."

Charmingly questionable speculations (such as poo-smeared babies growing into enormous adults) broken up by long discussions of Roman law that made my eyes glaze over.
Sky Lea
Relatively complicated read. Deals with a lot of philosophy and works to combine science and rationale with history, literature, politics, and a cultural analysis of the primitive man.
Andrew Simmons
A fascinating analysis of history from the perspective of a philologist. It also set up the school of historicism!
Scott Kleinpeter
Oct 12, 2012 Scott Kleinpeter marked it as to-read
Shelves: histories
I'm pretty jazzed I found out about this. Philosopher who raised a family (other than Hegel).
Fernanda Aspillaga
Definitivamente la edición tercera es superior a las anteriores.
Mark Love-Williamson
This is fascinating, almost a collection of aphorisms.
strange, laborious, and, in the end, worthwhile.
Not for the casual reader of history...
read at St. John's College
it's pretty much my bible
Aleksey Polukeyev
Aleksey Polukeyev marked it as to-read
Sep 16, 2014
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Olivier Leduc
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Sep 15, 2014
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Giovanni Battista (Giambattista) Vico or Vigo was an Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist. A critic of modern rationalism and apologist of classical antiquity, Vico's magnum opus is titled "Principles/Origins of [re]New[ed] Science about the Common Nature of Nations" (Principi di Scienza Nuova d'intorno alla Comune Natura delle Nazioni). The work is explicitly presente...more
More about Giambattista Vico...
On the Study Methods of Our Time The Autobiography of Giambattista Vico On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians On Humanistic Education: Six Inaugural Orations, 1699 1707 Opere Di Giambattista Vico CIO de Constantia Jurisprudentis Liber Alter, Volume 1

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“peoples, like so many beasts, have fallen into the custom of each man thinking only of his own private interests and have reached the extreme of delicacy, or better of pride, in which like wild animals they bristle and lash out at the slightest displeasure. Thus no matter how great the throng and press of their bodies, they live like wild beasts in a deep solitude of spirit and will, scarcely any two being able to agree since each follows his own pleasure and caprice.” 4 likes
“The most sublime labour of poetry is to give sense and passion to insensate things; and it is characteristic of children to take inanimate things in their hands and talk to them in play as if they were living persons... This philological-philosophical axiom proves to us that in the world's childhood men were by nature sublime poets...” 1 likes
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