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Vico's "New Science"A Philosophical Commentary$
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Donald Phillip Verene

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781501700163

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501700163.001.0001

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Genesis of the Frontispiece

Genesis of the Frontispiece

(p.32) Chapter 4 Genesis of the Frontispiece
Vico's "New Science"

Donald Phillip Verene

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines why Giambattista Vico deleted the Novella letteraria with which he planned to begin the New Science and replaced its pages with the dipintura he commissioned and an explanation of it. It suggests that the answer involves both Thomas Hobbes and Anthony Ashley Cooper, third earl of Shaftesbury. Vico may have intended the central figure of his frontispiece, Dame Metaphysic, to stand in opposition and represent the purest values of the spirit. Hobbes’s frontispiece in Leviathan (1651) combines within it the device of the impresa by placing above the head of his figure the line from the book of Job in the Latin Vulgate, warning that there is no power greater on the earth than Leviathan. This chapter considers what Vico thought of his frontispiece compared to that of Hobbes. It also discusses Shaftesbury’s Second Characters and Francis Bacon’s conception of the art of memory. Finally, it explores what Vico means by this analogy of the New Science with the anonymously written Tablet of Cebes.

Keywords:   dipintura, Giambattista Vico, Novella letteraria, New Science, Thomas Hobbes, Anthony Ashley Cooper, frontispiece, impresa, Second Characters, Tablet of Cebes

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