Vico oltre Babele? La diversità delle lingue nella Scienza Nuova, §§ 444-445

Stefano Gensini


This paper investigates Giambattista Vico’s linguistic thought, focusing on the topic of the diversity of languages. It is argued that Vico’s position dismantled the traditional ideas that reduced the diversity of languages to a consequence of Babel as well as Scaliger’s and Sanchez’s conventionalist standpoints that recurred to a modified form of Aristotelism. Vico’s “natural” perspective is studied in the light of Epicurus’ theory of language origins, which not only provided a justification for the semantic differences underpinning human languages but also explained the inner relationship holding between mother-tongue(s), habits and nations. Finally, Vico’s concept of Providence, granting that an “ideal mental language” balances cultural differences and has them converge toward a universal ‘commonsense’, is discussed to illustrate the philosopher’s compromise between language naturalism and his theological (as well as anthropological) view of Human history

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