Monday, December 31, 2007

Paparella, Emanuel L. Several Articles on Vico at THE GLOBAL SPIRAL (2007).

Emanuel Paparella is the author of Hermeneutics in the Philosophy of G. Vico. He holds a M Phil. and Ph.D. in Italian Humanism from Yale University, has studied Comparative Literature at New York University and has taught at various Universities. Click on any of the links below to access the articles:
  • Mytho-Poetic Wisdom as Origins of Self-knowledge—Part 2 Myth is a very concrete image of the world expressing in very rudimentary fashion the ethico-religious experience of primitive man; an experience rooted in fear and wonder and which is always at the origins of religion. For Vico, myth rather than logical thinking is the first form through which truth reveals itself.
  • Mytho-Poetic Wisdom as Origins of Self-knowledge—Part 1 Vico insists throughout his opus that in order for Man to understand himself and avoid the danger of scientific objectification, he needs to attempt a re-creation of the origins of humanity. This is achievable in as much as it was Man himself who created his own origins, and therefore he can return to them. By doing so he can hope to understand the destiny and meaning of his striving in space and time, which is to say, in history. In the beginning there is the end.
  • The Nexus between Language and Vico’s Historicism—Part 2 Man’s relationship to language and history cannot be one of ‘using’ them but rather, one of ‘participating’ in them. In the presentation of contemporary histories, the reader rarely gets an invitation to participate actively in language as another man standing within a world made by language...A whole semester may be spent on literary analysis while the text itself will go unread and thus the student rarely discerns that a great literary work is truly an historical experience in the sense that understanding stands in a specific place in time and space.
  • The Nexus between Language and Vico’s Historicism—Part 1 The very possibility of Vico’s science is related to the existence of universals of human nature reflected in linguistic universals formed by the human mind. There is a diachronic and a synchronic unity in language which is based on the unity of human nature. The failure to correlate spoken and written language produces in turn the failure to understand the origins of language.
  • The Encounter with History as Extension of the Self—Part 2 It does indeed take about half of one’s lifetime before one becomes aware that our existential condition is, to say it with Heidegger, of “being thrown into the world.” Youth, misguidedly perceiving itself as immortal is rather slow in perceiving this condition.
  • The Encounter with History as Extension of the Self—Part 1 For Vico, self-experience does not come by way of introspection, but rather by meeting others and their worlds, i.e., by way of history.
  • Vico’s Hermeneutical “understanding” of our Humanity—Part 3 Vico’s most important hermeneutical insight is that human beings cannot be explained objectively, they can only be “understood.”
  • A Revolutionary New View of History and Humanity—Part 2 Properly speaking, Vico is the grandfather of modern hermeneutics even if little or no credit is accorded to him in courses on mythology or history of religions.
  • A Revolutionary New View of History and Humanity—Part 1 Vico’s New Science (1725) is a watershed to modern historicism. He was however too far ahead of his contemporaries to have any direct impact on them. They had already embarked on a Cartesian paradigm of reality which now pervades modern culture. We modern men can hear Vico’s wake up bell much more clearly in the wake of what rampant rationalism has wrought on us.
  • "Man Is His Own History" leads to Self-knowledge -- Part III To briefly summarize Vico’s theory of knowledge we can say that history becomes science when Man orders and understands his deeds according to those eternal notions that Man finds in himself. The truth of history does not consist in mere facts produced by men, but also in the possibility that men have to recover the facts of history to the structure of their mind and to the eternal order that God reveals to the mind of men.
  • "Man Is His Own History" leads to self-knowledge--Part II Vico is the precursor of Martin Buber's basic insight that it is only in the world of I-Thou that true reality is to be found. The world of I-it is there to be analyzed, categorized, organized but it is not the total world.
  • “Man is his own History” leads to self-knowledge—Part 1I am not suggesting that the concept of history is a special privilege of Western Man. Non Westerns too have a history. However, it is only in 18th century Europe that Man becomes aware of the far reaching implications of that fact. While Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Muslims had chronicles and archives, they were not intellectually conscious of the astonishing fact peculiar to Western Man...
  • The Journey Continues The Enlightenment remains to be enlightened about itself. When it finally does it will come to the realization that if reason is made into a god of sort, then, far from taking us beyond ourselves it can degrade and dehumanize us; make us rationalists rationalizing what ought never be rationalized. Most of the Nazis who planned and rationalized the Holocaust in less than two hours and executed it in less than four years sported a Ph.D. after their name. That is modern nihilism at its worst.
  • The Journey Begins After a preparatory preamble on Providence and the historical consciousness, I’d like to begin the journey into Vico’s mind with a metaphor from my own intellectual life-experience: that of a long journey on a train and the reflections it engendered.
  • Man’s Freedom/God’s Providence: The Origins of the Historical Consciousness The idea of freedom is peculiar to the West. For the Western imagination this idea is nothing short of the underpinning for the historical consciousness. In fact, the consciousness of Man being his own history is one of the most striking characteristics of the Western world. It allows the self to turn back upon itself and judge itself ethically. This is possible because that same self conceives of itself as created in God’s own image and therefore essentially free, for this is a God that is free and creates freely. I dare say that there lies the theological genius of the West.
  • An Invitation to the Hermeneutics of the Self Like the ancients of antiquity, Vico insists that without self-knowledge there is no acquisition of wisdom. His was the question of the ancients re-discovered by the high medieval and Renaissance humanists: what does it mean to be human; how does one live humanly? And the question is addressed to each one of us.
  • The Idea of Providence within Vico’s Poetic Science of Humanity This is the crux of the problematic of providence vis-à-vis man’s freedom. Is providence wholly immanent within man’s social life? And if so, how is man free? On the other hand if providence is transcendent, how exactly does it operate in human history? Isn’t the very attempt to define God, even if only symbolically, an attempt at reducing his transcendence to the purely human?
  • The Uniqueness of Giambattista Vico’s Poetic Philosophy There are two dangerous extremes in modern Western philosophy: that of mythos without logos leading to a false transcendence and ushering in the Nietzschean charismatic Man; and that of logos without mythos leading to pure rationalism and ushering in technocratic Man. In between those dangerous extremes there is Vico’s poetic philosophy, humanistic, holistic and able to harmonize the two extremes.
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