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Giambattista Vico on Sensus communis - Dictionary of Arguments

Gadamer I 25
Sensus communis/Vico/Gadamer: [Vicos](1) Reference to the sensus communis refers (...) except the rhetorical (>Humanities/Vico) yet another moment from the ancient tradition. It is the contrast between the scholar and the sage on which he relies, a contrast that found its first form in the Cynical image of Socrates, its factual basis in the conceptual opposition of sophia and phronesis that Aristotle first elaborated, which in Peripatos was developed into a critique of the theoretical ideal of life(2) and in the Hellenistic age helped to shape the image of the wise man, especially after the Greek educational ideal had merged with the self-confidence of Rome's political elite. Also the Roman jurisprudence of the late period, for example, rises, as is well known, on the background of a legal art and practice that is more in touch with the practical ideal of Phronesis than with the theoretical ideal of Sophia(3). >Reason/Knowledge/Vico.

Gadamer I 26
Sensus communis/Vico/Gadamer:
Science/Rhetorics/Vico: Vico's reference to the sensus communis certainly shows a special colouring within this humanistic tradition. There is also in the field of science the querelle des anciens et des modernes. It is no longer the contrast to "school" but the special contrast to modern science that Vico means. Vico does not dispute the merits of modern critical science, but rather shows its limitations. The wisdom of the ancients, their care of the prudentia and eloquentia cannot be dispensed with even now, in view of this new science and its mathematical methodology. Even now, what is important for education is something else: the formation of the sensus communis, which nourishes itself not from what is true but from what is probable. >Sensus communis/Thomas, >Phronesis/Aristoteles.
Gadamer I 28
VicoVsAristotle/VicoVsThomas: Vico makes use (...) of the ancient Roman concept of the sensus communis, as known in particular to the Roman classics, who, in contrast to Greek education, clung to the value and meaning of their own traditions of state and social life.
It is thus a critical tone, a tone directed against the theoretical speculation of the philosophers, which can already be heard in the Roman concept of the sensus communis and which the Vico brings to the fore from its changed front position against modern science (the critica).
Gadamer I 29
But Vico was not alone in his appeal to the sensus communis. He has an important parallel in Shaftesbury, whose influence on the 18th century was enormous. >Sense communis/Shaftesbury.


1. .J. B. Vico, De nostri temporis studiorum ratione, mit Übertragung v. W. F. Otto. 1947.
2. W. Jaeger, Über Ursprung und Kreislauf des philosophischen Lebensideals, Sit-
zungsberichte der Preuß. Akademie d. Wiss., Berlin 1928.
3. F. Wieacker, Vom römischen Recht, 1945.


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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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