Giambattista Vico first published his masterwork The New Science in 1725. He revised it twice more before he died. It was intended to be nothing less than a reinterpretation of the history of human civilization, resulting in a new science of history. It’s influence was somewhat less than Vico might have hoped; it took more than a century and a half after its first publication, before the book emerged from obscurity. Arguably it was in the late 20th century that Vico’s influence was finally felt, and perhaps at no other time has his work been as widely read as it is now. Yet The New Science is not an easy work to read: obscure allusions, an unusual method, eccentric terminology, are all combined along with the occasional stunning aphorism or turn of phrase that land on the reader like a hammer.
With me to discuss Giambattista Vico are the two most recent translators of The New Science, an edition published early this year by Yale University Press. Jason Taylor is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Regis College; and Robert Miner is Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University. As you’ll see from the conversation, the picture above is actually very, very important.