The Enlightenment Period

Counter-Enlightenment Figures

What was Vico’s cyclical idea of history?

Vico believed that there are cultural patterns that dominate in different societies. Thus, law, religion, politics, art, and manners all tend to match up at any given time and place. For example, he drew connections between Athenian law and its pre-Socratic and Socratic philosophies. In his cyclical account of history, or what he called corsi e ricorsi, societies organically develop and then age and rot. He posited a bestial condition, a time of the gods, and a time of heroes, which also leads to oligarchies, or rule by the richest. This is followed by an age of men, characterized by class conflict, until the society decays. Vico applied this theory to the history of Rome, beginning with the mythical founders Romulus and Remus and ending with its overthrow by external barbarians.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Philosophy Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App