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New Science (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 1, 2000
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian
About the Author
Although Vico (1668-1744) lived his whole life as an obscure academic in Naples, his New Science is an astonishingly ambitious attempt to decode the history, mythology and law of the ancient world.
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Vico's text is presented in a clear and readable manner. Whether a reader agrees or disagrees with Vico, the New Science must be considered in any sincere study of metaphysics. To paraphrase Joyce: Vico makes me think, and imagine, when other sciences do not.
Several people asked where Vico is taught/who studies Vico. The Graduate Institute at St. John's College (Great Books program) studies Vico at length in the History segment, which is really Philosophy of History. The Great Books curriculum designers thought Vico was worth reading, and they were right. Also, the late philosopher Eric Voegelin wrote an essay in "Order and History" singling out Vico's work and advocating his "New Science." At Emory University Donald Philip Verene runs the Institute for Vico studies. There are also many collections of essays on Vico by both American and European scholars. St. John's College library in Annapolis contains a good number of them.
Vico writes in numbered axioms and conclusions so he can refer to ideas numerically and connect them. The numbered ideas are not necessarily sequential but are connected around themes.
There is a definite ending (in the Conclusion) regarding the culmination of civilization, which is what you want to get to, but without understanding how you got there it is significantly more hollow, so at least understand the trajectory of the earlier chapters first. To avoid getting bogged down or disoriented I would suggest doing the reading sequence listed on the St. John's College Grad Institute website. You can download the Graduate Reading List for History free. Remember to get to the end, otherwise you missed the big picture.
Second, this is the worst ebook in the history of creation. Free is too high a price. Cambridge University Press is to be commended for achieving the ultimate in both incompetency and contempt for their customers. Their pathetic product surpasses the wildest expectations. They have even found a way -- through wretched scanning I presume -- to split the capital H into two parts. Outstanding ebook production. Guttenberg must be rolling over in his grave.
Pompa, the translator, is considered a great Vico scholar. That said I'd rather try and read it in Italian -- there is a nice edition by BUR for $5.99 -- than wade through this garbage produced by one of the world's great publishers.
It's a disgrace.
"513 Juno is called jugalis, "of the yoke," with reference to the yoke of solemn matrimony for which it was called conjugium and the married pair conjuges. She is also known as Lucina, who brings the offspring into the light; not natural light, for that is shared by the offspring of slaves, but the civil light by reason of which the nobles are called illustrious. And she is jealous with a political jealousy, that from which the Romans down to the 309th year of Rome excluded the plebs from connubium or lawful marriage. By the Greeks however she was called Hera, whence the name the heroes gave themselves, for they were born of solemn nuptials, of which Juno was the goddess, and hence generated in noble love (which is the meaning of Eros), which was identical with Hymen. And the heroes must have been so called in the sense of "lords of the families" in distinction from the famuli, who as we shall see were in effect slaves. Heri had this same meaning in Latin, whence hereditas for "inheritance," for which the native Latin word had been familia. With such an origin, hereditas must have meant a despotic sovereignty, and by the law of the Twelve Tables there was reserved to the family fathers a sovereign power of testamentary disposition, in the article [5.3]: Uti paterfamilias super pecunia tutelave suae rei legassit, ita ius esto, "As the family father has disposed concerning his property and the guardianship of his estate, so let it be binding." The disposing was generally called legare, which is a prerogative of sovereigns; thus the heir becomes a "legate" [legatee] who in inheriting represents the defunct paterfamilias, and the children no less than the slaves were included in the words rei suae and pecunia. All of which proves only too conclusively the monarchic power that the fathers had had over their families in the state of nature. This they were bound to retain—and we shall see later that they did in fact retain it—in the state of the heroic cities. These must in origin have been aristocratic commonwealths, that is, commonwealths of lords, in origin, for the fathers still retained their power even in the popular commonwealths. All these matters will later be discussed at length."
And here is the closest passage from this translation. It comes in Book V, Chapter VI:
"414- Juno is the principle of solemn marriage, i.e. of marriage celebrated with Jove's auspices. Hence her two names: `Jugalis', from the yoke of marriage, and `Lucina', for bringing certain offspring into civil light. She is both the wife and sister of Jove, for the first marriages were celebrated among those who possessed his auspices in common. She is jealous of Jove, but her jealousy is of the severe kind that befits legislators who must found peoples and nations, i.e. jealousy about communicating marriage to those who do not share in the communion of Jove's auspices. She is also sterile, but her sterility is, so to speak, civil; hence it remained the common custom of all nations that women do not found houses. She is suspended in the air, the region of the auspices, with a rope around her neck, [to signify] that first force with which, as we said earlier [58, io6], the giants dragged the vagabond women into their grottoes and kept them there, from which came the certain succession of houses or greater gentes. Her hands are tied with a rope, the first conjugal bond, later replaced in almost all nations by a ring, and two stones lie at her feet, to signify the stability of marriages that should never be split. Hence the Romans were very late in introducing divorce, which is the reason why Virgil called solemn matrimony coniugium stabile ['stable marriage']." Thus easily can we explain this fable, which has so far proved of such torment to the ingenuity of the mythologists."
It is not clear why these passages are in completely different parts of the book and why they are so different in meaning. Also look at the reference in the latter paragraph. It refers to paragraphs 58 and io6, which undoubtedly means 106. Why couldn't they correct that? I guess having spelled the author's name incorrectly you can't really hope for much?
Most recent customer reviews
This review is intended as a criticism, NOT of the Bergin and Fisch translation or of Vico's master work as a whole, but rather ONLY of the Penguin Edition...The New Science of Giambattista Vico: Unabridged Translation of the Third Edition (1744) with the Addition of Practic of the New Science (Cornell Paperbacks)Read more