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Synopsis

It would be an understatement to say that the New Science is difficult to read. Most contemporary readers conclude with a Russian scholar that Vico's thought "is expressed in extremely naive forms, profound thoughts are interspersed with all sorts of pedantic trifles, the exposition is very confusing, yet it is beyond doubt that the basic idea is a work of genius. " 1 There can be no disputing the fact that the New Science is difficult to read; the dispute emerges in the effort to explain how a work which is at once "confusing," "naive" and "pedantic," can be a "work of genius. " The purpose of this brief study is to suggest that a good deal of the confusion can be dispelled when the New Science is read with care and an eye to the possibility of two levels of meaning. We must never forget that Vico was a professor of rhetoric and was therefore familiar with the techniques of cautious writing. It is our conviction that the New Science is an exoteric book which means that it contains two levels of meaning: one which conveys a popular and orthodox message, and another which 2 conveys a philosophical message addressed to philosophers. A large number of contemporary scholars tend to minimize or dismiss this type of writing.

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