E491 Giambattista Vico Questions

Assigned: from The New Science (399-416).

From The New Science.

1. On 401-03, Vico sets forth his "three ages" and ties them to three corresponding kinds of language. What are the three ages and kinds of language, and what's the correspondence between them?

2. On 403, how does Vico explain the "source of all poetic locution"? More generally, what does he suggest about the difference between modern ways of speaking and imagining and that of "the first gentile peoples"?

3. On 404-06, Vico writes that "the world of civil society has certainly been made by men." How does this statement inform Vico's explanation of the "new science" he promotes – what is to be studied, and why?

4. On 406, what does Vico suggest about the relationship between early or theological poetry and subsequent philosophical writing? And on 408-12, what counter-theory does he provide concerning the origin of the "widsom of the ancients" (poetic wisdom) against the one set forth by Plato, Aristotle, and certain Renaissance Italian critics?

5. On 413-16, Vico discusses the nature and significance of the four main tropes – metaphor, synecdoche, metonymy, and irony. How does he explain these figures, and why are they so important to the practitioner of the new science?

6. On 416 (as on 406 and 412), Vico states that "the theological poets were the sense and the philosophers the intellect of human wisdom." How do you interpret that remark? What is Vico suggesting about human history and knowledge, and how does his emphasis differ from the supposedly standard Enlightenment view?

Edition: Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN 0393974294.