This essay considers how in Vico the alterity of nature plays an important role in the formation of humanity, as part of the complexity and interconnectivity of life, resisting acritical historicization and reduction to purely human paradigms. Unlike Machiavelli’s, Vico’s idea of humanity and human institutions is not based simply on Roman history. He perceived the need to consider and investigate the “empty spaces” of history to understand the deepest layers deposited by history in the human mind, including the pre-alphabetic culture.
The theoretical implications of this approach to Vico’s humanism and making of history lead to a new understanding of Auerbach’s idea that “our philological home is the earth,” one in which philology and philosophy in a genuinely Vichian fashion return to interrogate not only the historical institutions but also their relationships to earth and the natural environment as a significant part in the formation of humanity. Thus, this essay proposes Vico’s idea of “places of humanity” as the driving force of a new humanism, one that is “more than human,” and finally pays attention to what has been excluded or not valorized from purely historicist interpretations of his philosophy.
The essay was publish in the Annali d’Italianistica in 2011 with the title