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N.2/2020 Filosofia e storia: una relazione ancora possibile?

Providence in Ordinary
On Human Language in Giambattista Vico’s The New Science

Thomas K. Graff

(University of Cambridge)

Published in December, 2020

Providence in OrdinaryOn Human Language in Giambattista Vico’s The New Science



Against a presumed antagonism in 18th century philosopher Giam- battista Vico between divinity and humanity as the “true” author of history, this article aims to recuperate one aspect of the harmony of human and divine action via what I term the “ordinary providence” of Vico’s The New Science. Ac- cording to Vico’s philosophy of history, the histories of the Gentile and Hebrew races diverge not with respect to whether but how divine providence is variously present to them. The nondescript providential gift of the former, I argue, is realized in and as human language itself. In this unity, the poiesis of language is ontologically significant: humans as signifiers both form and are formed by their signs. Ultimately, via exploration of Vico’s “ordinary providence,” I offer that divine providence can be re-imagined not as overwhelming human agency in history (contra the neo-Stoicism and neo-Epicureanism of Vico’s time) nor as interrupting or suspending it (contra claims of occasionalism in Vico), but as fully capacitating it.


Giambattista Vico; philosophy of history; providence; language;



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