Philosophy of history of Giambattista Vico
The title of my thesis may lead the reader to expect to find in it rather more and different things than there actually are. Because of this I think it advisable to outline some of the restrictions which have been imposed upon it and some of the reasons which explain these. The first and most important restriction lies in the fact that it is mainly confined to the exposition and elucidation of Vico's theories. There is little philosophical discussion of the tenability and value of his ideas and such as I have been able to include i3 largely to be found in the brief concluding section. I have found it necessary to omit altogether any comparisons of Vico with latter-day thinkers of his type, e.g. Hegel, Spengler and Toynbee. A variety of reasons have contributed towards this. Hie first is the obscure, diffuse and often muddled nature of "Hie New Science", which is notoriously difficult to understand. In part this problem arises not so much from the difficulty of the ideas as from the fact that there are so many of them. But this alone would not be a reason for puzzlement. It becomes so when allied to a second factor: the difficulty of understanding the meaning of some of Vico's principal pronouncements about the nature of the enterprise carried out in "The New Science" and about the relationships between at least some of its main theories. It is admitted on all hands that Vico's language is obscure. I should not want to dispute this and, indeed, have had to go to some lengths to try to clear up a few of these obscurities. It is also alleged sometimes that some of the difficulties of understanding 'The Now Science" arise from philosophical confusions. This is a much more disputable claim, it will become clear in the following work that I hold that Vico was by no means so confused in his grasp of his own doctrines as the general obscurity of "The New Science" might suggest. Certainly I do not think that he was guilty of one or two basic philosophical confusions which, if located, would provide the clue to the unravelling of most of the difficulties of his work. Nor do I think that those mistakes which he does make are so fundamental that he is left with nothing of importance to say once they have been rectified.