Vico and the Social Theory of Law. The Structure of Legal Communication

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This creative text is the result of a scholarly struggle with the meaning over the context of a social theory of law. It examines the philosophical, sociological and jurisprudential aspects of Gambattista Vico’s theory of law. Particularly his philosophical confrontation and engagement with important thinkers such as: Hobbes, Leibniz and Spinoza and the configuration of this thought with modern thinkers such as Gadamer and Deleuze.


“Brienza’s study… contributes a highly original and essential element to the two parallel debates on Vico and social theory…this thoughtful book can be characterized as the continuation of an ongoing, necessary conversation between Vico and Nietzsche.”
-Dr. Giuseppe Mazzotta,
Chair, Department of Italian,
Yale University

“ Brienza’s work offers a unique interpretive approach to a work from a different period of time and different context…As a result, he has done a great job of providing an appropriate level of historical context.”
-Professor David Baker,
Texas Southern University

“…a novel and original perspective on the work of Gambattista Vico in English. Brienza’s focus on a social theory of law in relation to Vico is very important.”
-Professor Renate Holub,
University of California, Berkley

Table of Contents

Foreword by Giuseppe Mazzotta
1. Paradox and Origin: On the Structure of Legal Communication

Paradox and Legal Theory
Nature / Culture and Legal Communication
The Mysterious Origins of Legal Authority
The Autonomy of Law and the Emergence of Legal Conceptuality
2. History, Law and Hermeneutic Self-Reference
The Framing of Vico’s Interpretation in Nineteenth Century
Benedetto Croce and Vico
Gadamer, Vico, and the Decline of the Humanist Tradition
Historically Effected Consciousness and the Hermeneutic Re-collection of Sensus Communis
Humanism and the Interpretive Vehicle of Vico’s Conatus
Conclusion: Hermeneutics and Vico’s Texts
3. Self-Mastery and the Conversion of Force: An Ethics of Freedom
Words and Things: Philology Defined
Etymologies of Conatus
The Context of Conatus
Baroque En-folding: Leibniz and Conatus Accounting for Freedom: Spinoza’s Notion of Conatus
4. The Social Metaphysics of Law: Vico’s Communicative Body and the Paradoxical Grounding of Freedom and Authority
On the Concept of the baroque
Leibniz and Monadology
Motion and the Monad
The Vichian Concept of Conatus
The Engendering Power of Ingenium
5. The Creative Formation and Foundation of Society’s Law: On the Nature of Poetic Wisdom
The Transition to Poetry as Source and Method
The Signigicance of Homer
Poetry in the New Science
Idea of the Locus, Wisdom, and Poetic Theology
The Cyclopean Age
Poetry, Knowledge, and the Myth of Jove
6. Between Freedom and Authority: Vico’s History of Roman Law
The Significance of Roman Constitution Histor
The Gaze of the God: The Coming of Shame
Conatus and Authority: A General Structure
The Phenomenology of Force
Authority and the Family
Class Struggle and the Origins of Law
The Emergence of Codified Law: The Twelve Tables
Certum et Verum: The Emergence and Elaboration of Legal Reason
Legal Individualism and the Culture of Solitude
The Circle of Authority
Law and the Social practice of Justice
Conclusion: The Tripartite Division of Authority and the Harmonization of the Three Bodies of Law
7. The Technique of Command: On the Problem of Freedom in Weber’s Sociology of Law
General Introduction
Vico and Weber: Contrasting Views on Power and Authority
Differing Methodologies and the Sociology of Law
Basic Differences in the Social Concept of law

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