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Giambattista Vico | During the Enlightenment Era

Giambattista Vico - Lucian of Samosata Wiki

During the Enlightenment era many rhetoricians argued what was truly knowledge and the means of understanding and finding truth. Many such as Descartes argued that mathematics and science were the only legitimate sources of knowledge. The rhetorician Giambattista Vico criticized Descartes idea, insisting that language is a crucial part of knowledge. Vico sought to reconcile the humanism views of the Renaissance but with a modern non-Cartesian science approach. Vico believed that without language humans would be lost because language reveals the process of reason, passion, imagination, social conventions and historical circumstances. What humans believe to be true is what they have stated is true overtime. Therefore history is crucial to understanding what is true. Through history, human nature and language give shape to the social relations and institutions of our world. Vico created three stages through which human history evolves: the poetic, the heroic, and the human. The poetic generates knowledge by metaphor. The heroic is developed through nations by a system of laws to preserve organization of society. The human through a self-conscious study of human knowledge leads to a greater equity in law and democracy in politics.

Personally I agree with Vico’s ideas. Withough language, knowledge is not truly possible. Language is needed to create ideas and thoroughly work them out. I also agree with Vico that history has determined what we know to be true. Language is crucial to the development of humans and overall knowledge. As Vico said, without language humans would be lost.

LexiRoberts. “Giambattista Vico.” 11-2-2011. <>.

vico/english-360-rhetoric.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/14 23:20 (external edit)