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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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Threefold Structure of the Course of the Nations

Threefold Structure of the Course of the Nations

(p.195) Chapter 17 Threefold Structure of the Course of the Nations
Vico's "New Science"

Donald Phillip Verene

Cornell University Press

This chapter offers a philosophical commentary on Giambattista Vico’s discussion of the threefold structure of the course of the nations in Book 4 of the New Science, and especially his articulation of the ideal eternal history in schematic and summary form. It examines Vico’s answer to the question What is a nation? by focusing on his play on the word nazione as implying “birth” (nato). It also explores the three sets of three triads that comprise the partitio or sequence of eleven triads, introduced by a triad of three kinds of natures and concluded by three sects of times. These are: three triads of kinds of customs, natural laws, and governments; three triads of kinds of languages, characters, and jurisprudence; and three triads of kinds of authority, reason, and judgments. The three kinds of natures describe three ways of being human, whereas the three sects of times—religious, punctilious, and civil—spell out three ways of being in history.

Keywords:   Giambattista Vico, nations, New Science, triads, customs, natural law, jurisprudence, ideal eternal history, nature

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