Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 13, No 3 (2017)

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Using Giambattista Vico to Ponder Truth and Reality in the Donald Trump Era

Steve Peter Mackey


Writers including Arran Gare and Mikhail Epstein are calling for a return to the humanities to tackle contemporary impotence against globally disasterous neoliberal ideas. This paper uses the thesis of Giambattista Vico to take their call a step further. Rather than asking present thinkers to change their perspectives, what is needed is the creation of new thinkers. According to Vico in the past there have been three ages in which people have thought on the bases of very different sensus communis or archai. That is: since pre-history humanity has used three entirely different, if somewhat overlapping schema for understanding. These are superstition, hero myths and logical reasoning. As will be explained, logical reasoning is no longer adequate. But the seeds of a radically different fourth basis of understanding lies hidden within logical reasoning’s body. This forgotten potential is a proper grasp of Aristotle’s and others’ insightful conceptions of rhetoric, conceptions which have been suppressed by logicians. This paper calls for a paradigm shift in thinking to retrieve these ideas and align philosophy closer to what was once termed the queen of the humanities.

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