Through a Jewel, Darkly: A Reading of the Frontispiece of Giambattista Vico’s Scienza Nuova

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Title: Through a Jewel, Darkly: A Reading of the Frontispiece of Giambattista Vico’s Scienza Nuova
Author: DeForest, Ben
Abstract: Abstract: This essay provides an interpretation of the frontispiece that adorns the 1730 and 1744 editions of Giambattista Vico’s Principj di Scienza Nuova, arguing that the beam of light depicted in the so-called dipintura should be read as an allusion to Isaac Newton’s discovery that white light “is a heterogeneous mixture of differently refrangible rays.” Vico’s championing of Newtonian optics is read as a response to an analogy that begins Descartes’s Rules for the Direction of the Mind, in which colored rays of light are compared to the various sciences. In borrowing the Cartesian metaphorics of light and colors and reconsidering this metaphorics in terms of a more current optical theory, Vico imagines a means for organizing human knowledge appropriate to the conditions of modernity that stands in stark contradistinction to that of Descartes.
URI: http://jhir.library.jhu.edu/handle/1774.2/33797
Date: 2008
Subject: Frontispiece
The New Science
Vico, Giambattista (1668-1744)

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