Thesis ID: CBB262339207

The Occasions of Community: Giambattista Vico and the Concept of Society (2015)


This dissertation provides a systematic account of the development of Giambattista Vico’s conception of society as it is presented primarily in his Inaugural Orations, Universal Law, and New Science. Three claims remain constant between these three works: (1) Humans are essentially social, (2) Humans do not cause society, but rather occasion it, and (3) the task of the philosopher is to promote humanity’s social nature in the face of the otherwise destructive and anti-social impulses brought about as a result of original sin. Many additional features of Vico’s conception of society anticipate the modern conception of society that made the social sciences possible. As with modern conceptions of society, Vico’s is as a thing separable both from the state and from the individuals that make it up. But Vico’s theological commitments prevent him from being interested in society for its own sake. A defining feature of the modern concept of society is a secularism that finds explanations for social phenomena in society itself. Vico is unwavering in his theological commitments. For Vico, society is not an active agent that produces social effects, but is rather a passive aggregate of individuals that is acted upon by a force that is outside of itself: Divine Providence. For this reason, it is argued that Vico’s conception of society is not yet modern.

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Authors & Contributors
Hammond, Nicholas
Zellini, Paolo
Generali, Dario
Pyle, Andrew
Rogers, Ben
Edwards, A. W. F.
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Journal of the History of Philosophy
Intellectual History Review
Galilæana: Journal of Galilean Studies
Cambridge University Press
Warburg Institute, Univ. of London
Science and religion
Philosophy of science
Natural philosophy
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Malebranche, Nicolas de
Descartes, René
Newton, Isaac
Spinoza, Baruch
Pascal, Blaise
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
19th century
20th century
21st century
16th century
Great Britain
Rome (Italy)
United States
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)
School of Milan

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