Andrea Battistini

Some applications of the History of Ideas to literature

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Keywords: History of Ideas, Italian Literature, Niccolò Machiavelli, Galileo Galilei, Giambattista Vico.

This essay outlines the main theses of the «History of Ideas» devised by Arthur O. Lovejoy. It points out the features, the ways, the aims but also the epistemological weakness of this method. This euristic perspective is then applied to some cases taken from the Italian literature. The examples concern the relationship between Machiavelli and the XVIth century naturalistic philosophy, and the connection between science and literature. From this point of view is paradigmatic Galileo’s case. This scientist was interpreted from a literary point of view in an incomplete and distorting way because the linguistic and stylistic necessity of a scientific discourse was ignored. The last example of the history of ideas concerns the ermeneutic role of rhetoric in Vico’s anthropology.

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