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Giambattista Vico on Knowledge - Dictionary of Arguments

Gadamer I 27
Knowledge/Truth/Science/Education/Vico/Gadamer: [The] provisions of Vico(1) are apologetic.(>Reason/Vico). They indirectly recognize the new concept of truth in science by merely defending the right of the probable. Vico follows, as we have seen, the
old rhetorical tradition that goes back to Plato. What Vico means, however, goes far beyond defending the rhetorical Peitho. In fact (...) the old Aristotelian opposition of practical and theoretical knowledge becomes effective here, a contrast that cannot be reduced to that of true and probable. Practical knowledge, the phronesis, is a different kind of knowledge(2). >Phronesis.
This means first of all: it is directed at the concrete situation. It must therefore grasp the "circumstances" in their infinite variety. This is also what Vico expressly emphasizes in it. Admittedly, he only sees that this knowledge eludes the rational concept of knowledge.
But in truth it is not a mere ideal of resignation. The Aristotelian contrast means something else than just the contrast between the knowledge of general principles and the seeing of the concrete. Nor does it mean merely the ability to subsume the individual under the general, which we call "power of judgement" ["Urteilskraft"]. Rather, it is a positive, ethical motive at work in it, which enters into the Roman Stoic doctrine of the sensus communis. Such a subsumption of the given under the general, i.e. the purpose that one pursues, requires that what is right is derived from it. >Sensus communis/Vico.


1. J. B. Vico, De nostri temporis studiorum ratione, mit Übertragung v. W. F. Otto. 1947.
2. Aristoteles, Eth. Nic. Z. 9, 1141b 33.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Vico I
Giambattista Vico
Prinzipien einer neuen Wissenschaft über die gemeinsame Natur der Völker Hamburg 2009

Gadamer I
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik 7. durchgesehene Auflage Tübingen 1960/2010

Gadamer II
H. G. Gadamer
The Relevance of the Beautiful, London 1986
German Edition:
Die Aktualität des Schönen: Kunst als Spiel, Symbol und Fest Stuttgart 1977


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-05-14
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