Not all is always bad in the generally bleak post-human, anti-humane Humanities landscape. There are occasional signs of life and glimmers of hope. In recent years the name of Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) has resurfaced, especially among some social scientists and humanists who have looked to previous eras for some possibile guidance. Vico is indeed a voice worth listening to for a number of reasons, and a voice those in Classical Christian education should also give a hearing to for some good reasons.
Following the lead of the Renaissance educators, Vico affirmed the connection between paideia and humanitas. Vico was Professor of Rhetoric (Latin Eloquence) at the University of Naples. In a number of his writings, he argues for humane education rooted in “practical wisdom” or prudentia accomplished with due diligence. Vico's criticisms of Descartes' ideas have proven to gain increasing respect over the years. Vico's definition of “science” or scienza challenged Cartesian assumptions and would for Christian intellectuals be worth examining in light of modern discussions and debates about the very definition of science. Vico, unique to his time, called for the Aristotelian connection of rhetoric with logic, thereby reconnecting rhetoric to topics as their core. Vico's resistance to the rhetorical theory and practice of his day (and sadly our own) is that it had an artificial disconnection from sensus communis of humans.
Vico announced once to students that they were “born for wisdom” and yet warned them that the love of wisdom is confronted with numerous obstacles. As with other great Christian thinkers challenged by the Delphi oracle, “know thyself,” Vico asserts it as the center of the sphere of all of the liberal arts and liberal learning.
On the Study Methods of Our Time is a fine book that explicates the way that Vico was distinct from his time and it does make me wonder how different science and the humanities had gone if Vico or Pascal had won the day. Vico's On Humanistic Education would be the book to read if you desire to get an understanding of Vico's philosophy of education and the benefits for all those in Classical Christian schools.
Woods, Robert. “Giambattista Vico on Humanististic Education.” 12-21-2011. <http://christianhumanistmusings.blogspot.com/2011/11/giambattista-vico-on-humanistic.html>.