Giambattista Vico

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Giambattista Vico

Giambattista Vico , Giambattista Vigo or Giovanbattista Vico (Naples, June 23, 1668 – ibid., January 23, 1744) was a lawyer and philosopher of Neapolitan history. Remarkable for its concept of truth as a result of doing (verum ipsum factum).

His most important work is the Scienza nuova, published for the first time in 1725 and after extensions and restructuring, in 1730 and 1744, the year of his death.

The great originality of his thought has been valued in the 20th century thanks to Benedetto Croce, Isaiah Berlin and María Zambrano.

Giambattista_Vico’s Biography

Despite his humble origins (he was the son of a bookseller), he studied law and was a professor of rhetoric for more than forty years.

He had aspired to a chair of jurisprudence, more prestigious, but he had to limit himself to the teaching of rhetoric, which meant smaller stipends and that Vico complemented for years by offering private lessons.

The role of preceptor in the house of the Marquis of Rocca, in the castle of Vatolla in Cilento, made a remarkable contribution to his training, a role that he fulfilled from 1689 to 1695 and that gave him access to the imposing library of his guest in the that there were works by Agustín de Hipona, Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, including Giovanni Botero and Jean Bodin, natural law theorists, and Tacitus.

From his activity as a teacher come the six inaugural Prayers, written for the opening of the academic years that ran from 1699 to 1707.

In his Autobiography, published in 1725, Vico cites as an inspiring source of his Scienza nuova the metaphysics emanating from the Platonic ideas, the realism of the Tacitian historian, the inductive method of Francis Bacon, the jurist Hugo Grotius in regard to the relations between philosophy and philology.

Its manifest purpose is to relate the ideal world to the real world, putting philosophy -which deals with truth- in line with philology -which deals with certainty as a historical and documentary method-, in which it concerns the investigation of the ideal genesis of the civil world.

It was proposed to formulate the principles of the historical method, based on three premises:

  1. Certain historical periods have similar characteristics to each other, although the details vary.
  2. It establishes an order in the historical cycles: Brute force, heroic force, justice, dazzling originality, destructive reflection, opulence, abandonment and waste.
  3. History does not repeat itself, they are not closed cycles, rather a growing spiral that creates new elements.

His theses on the different evolution of historical periods later influenced the works of Montesquieu, Auguste Comte and Karl Marx.

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