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By Frederick Charles Copleston

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Nor can we prove them by the arguments of traditional metaphysics. For these arguments are invalid. But if a man recognizes moral obligation at all, he is implicitly asserting a moral order which in turn implies the immortality of the soul and the existence of God. It is not a case of strict logical implication, so that we can produce a series of watertight proofs. Rather is it a case of discovering and affirming by faith that view of reality which alone gives full meaning and value to the consciousness of moral obligation mediated by conscience.

Vico was a Christian, and he did not belong to the camp of those who rejected the theological interpretation of history represented by St. Augustine and Bossuet. At the same time in his work Principi di una scienza nuova d'intorno alla commune natura delle nazioni (Principles of aNew Science Concerning the Common Nature of Nations) he left aside purely t~eol~gical considerations to examine the natural laws governing hlstoncal development. There are two points which we can notice here about this New Science.

Joining the army of Maximilian of Bavaria, he was stationed at Neuberg on the Danube; and it was at this time that in secluded reflection he began to lay the foundations of his philosophy. On November loth, 1619, he had three consecutive dreams which convinced him that his mission was to seek truth by reason, and he made a vow to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady at Loreto in Italy. Further military service in Bohemia and Hungary and travel in Silesia, northern Germany and the Netherlands, followed by a visit to his father at Rennes, prevented him from fulfilling this vow for the time being.

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A History of Philosophy [Vol IV] by Frederick Charles Copleston


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