Vico's Uncanny Humanism: Reading the "New Science" between Modern and Postmodern (Hardback)Sandra Rudnick Luft (author)
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Sandra Luft, in her ambitious postmodernist reading of Vico's profoundly influential New Science, asserts the "strangeness" of texts that struggle to understand human existence outside the assumptions of traditional humanism. One of her central arguments is that Vico as a thinker moved toward such an alien understanding. Despite his warning against the tyranny of "familiar conceits," his work is commonly read within the traditional philosophic assumptions of the West-assumptions that she shows cannot contain nor explain the work's novelty.
The book includes extensive comparisons of Vico with Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida. Luft does not regard Vico as a precursor of the postmodern, which she sees as a recurring perspective in the West, one critical of the assumptions underlying traditional humanist conceptions of human nature and knowledge. Luft finds anachronistic not the question of Vico's affinity to postmodern ideas, but rather his identification with traditional humanism and modernism by modern scholars. Luft's reading brings to the fore radical existential issues in New Science: its concern with origins, with the power of language and social practices, and with its critique of human subjectivity. That perspective makes Vico interesting and important for a wide circle of contemporary readers.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 28 g
Dimensions: 235 x 155 x 21 mm
"This idiosyncratic book is destined not only to keep alive the interest in Vico among readers unable to approach him in the original but also to stimulate inquiries into the problematic connection of the New Science to Jewish studies."-Gustavo Costa, Renaissance Quarterly, Fall 2004
"Luft shows that Vico knew nothing of rabbinic interpretations of Genesis and did not anticipate postmodernism; it is through rabbinic exegetes and postmodernist thinkers like Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Foucault, and Derrida that one is best able to understand the viewpoint at which Vico arrived and which all his "modernist" interpreters (many discussed in this book) have failed to grasp. Dense but provocative."-Choice, March 2004
"This is a deep, learned, and original (but in no way idiosyncratic) reading of Vico's magnificently flawed classic, The New Science. It is also a heroic work, respectfully but adamantly set against the grain of the currently dominant trend in Vico interpretation which seeks to make of him a man of our time rather than of his own. Sandra Luft combines erudition with hermeneutic tact in her reading of Vico's ideas about language, history, and humanism. And her expository style is a treat: precise, passionate, illuminating. A scholar's feast!"-Hayden White, University Professor of the History of Consciousness, University of California, Professor of Comparative Literature, Stanford University
"Here is a new, captivating, and deeply learned reading of Vico's New Science. Relying on some postmodern as well as rabbinical insights, Luft finds in Vico's work a vindication of poetic creativity outside the parameters of traditional humanist and theological interpretations focused on subjective agency. Leaving behind the modern subject and its so-called 'end,' Vico emerges as the champion of a transformative praxis appropriate for our time."-Fred Dallmayr, Notre Dame
"This is an important book, one which will redirect the readings of Vico. The thinker Luft describes is simply more interesting than the one presented by others-more original, more radical, more all the things Vico claimed to be."-Hans Kellner, North Carolina State University