Democracy and the Vernacular Imagination in Vico's Plebian Philology

History of Humanities, Forthcoming

42 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2018 Last revised: 17 Oct 2018

See all articles by Rebecca Gould

Rebecca Gould

Professor, Islamic World & Comparative Literature, College of Arts & Law, University of Birmingham; Harvard University - Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies

Date Written: June 20, 2018

Abstract

This essay examines Giambattista Vico’s philology as a contribution to democratic legitimacy. I outline three steps in Vico’s account of the historical and political development of philological knowledge. First, his merger of philosophy and philology, and the effects of that merge on the relative claims of reason and authority. Second, his use of antiquarian knowledge to supersede historicist accounts of change in time and to position the plebian social class as the true arbiters of language. Third, his understanding of philological knowledge as an instrument of political change, and a foundational element in the establishment of democracy. By treating the philological imagination as a tool for bringing about political change, Vico’s plebian philology is radically democratic, and a crucial instrument in the struggle against the elite, from antiquity to the present.

Keywords: Vico, Philology, Democracy, Political Theory, Vernacularity, Contingency, Language, Roman Law, Critical Theory

Suggested Citation

Gould, Rebecca Ruth, Democracy and the Vernacular Imagination in Vico's Plebian Philology (June 20, 2018). History of Humanities, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3200150

Rebecca Ruth Gould (Contact Author)

Professor, Islamic World & Comparative Literature, College of Arts & Law, University of Birmingham ( email )

College of Arts and Law
Birmingham, UK, Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom
https://rrgould.hcommons.org/ (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/rebeccagould

Harvard University - Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies ( email )

1730 Cambridge Street, 3rd Floor
Cambridge, 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://daviscenter.fas.harvard.edu/about-us/people/rebecca-gould

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