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Isaiah Berlin and the Enlightenment$
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Laurence Brockliss and Ritchie Robertson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198783930

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198783930.001.0001

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Berlin, Vico, and the Critique of Enlightenment

Berlin, Vico, and the Critique of Enlightenment

Chapter:
(p.151) 11 Berlin, Vico, and the Critique of Enlightenment
Source:
Isaiah Berlin and the Enlightenment
Author(s):

John Robertson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198783930.003.0012

This paper addresses what Berlin did for the study of Vico, rather than what Vico contributed to the thought of Berlin, a subject already explored by Joseph Mali. The first part traces the stages of Berlin’s engagement with Vico’s works, outlining the salient features of the resulting interpretation of Vico, and assessing the character of Berlin’s portrayal. The second part offers an intellectual historian’s alternative to Berlin’s portrayal of Vico: instead of a Vico ‘born out of his time’, it argues for a Vico very much of his time. The point is to underline the distinctiveness, even idiosyncrasy, of Berlin’s approach to the history of ideas. The final part suggests that Berlin’s Vico may best be understood, not as an historical reconstruction, but as a contribution to an older tradition of engagement with Enlightenment: the philosophic critique of the Enlightenment as the misconceived foundation of modernity.

Keywords:   Vico, theory of knowledge, philosophy of history, intellectual history, Meinecke

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