• Cecilia Miller
Part of the Studies in Modern History book series (SMH)


Vico’s fundamental importance in the history of European ideas lies in his strong anti-Cartesian, anti-French and anti-Enlightenment views. In an age in which intellectuals congratulated themselves on their modern (which was to say, rational) approach to life, Giambattista Vico (1668–1744) stressed the nonrational elements in man — in particular, imagination — as well as social and civic relationships, none of them easily reducible to the scientific theories so popular in his time. It is well known that the chief reason Vico gave for his anti-Cartesian stance was that man could not fully know the natural world (science) as it was made by God, but that human history was largely, if not entirely, comprehensible precisely because it was man-made. Yet it is important to note that although Vico turned his back on Cartesian rationalism, he nevertheless applied rational methods to the subject René Descartes (1596–1650) despised — history.


Human History Intellectual History Historical Knowledge Past Society Chief Reason 
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Copyright information

© Cecilia Miller 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecilia Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Wesleyan UniversityUSA

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