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On the Complexity of the Universal Order in Vico’s Establishing Principles

by Taha Al-Douri 1,2
School of Architecture and Design, New York Institute of Technology, 1855 Broadway, New York, NY 10023, USA
International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research And Cybernetics (I.I.A.S), P.O. Box 3010, Tecumseh, ON N8N 2M3, Canada
Systems 2017, 5(2), 31;
Received: 30 December 2016 / Revised: 9 March 2017 / Accepted: 12 March 2017 / Published: 3 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complex Social Systems: Theory And Practice)
In his seminal work The Principles of a New Science of the Common Nature of Nations (Principii di una scienza nuova d’intorno alla natura delle nazioni, published in 1725 then again in 1730 and posthumously in 1744), Giambattista Vico (Born in 1668) wrote to qualify the scientific to include the humanities and their complexity beyond the popular Cartesian circumscription within the laws of physics—divinely instituted and set in motion—in describing its phenomena. The work is, for one, a manifesto of the essential complexity inherent in universal order, and against a reduction of scholarship to the pure sciences, in which elimination is key. Vico proposed a structure that afforded the organic integration of the humanities within the laws of physics as parts of “a tree of knowledge” whose trunk branched out into a progression toward certainty, drawn out of the most fluid humanities at the roots, in an order of premise and conclusion. The tree metaphor is the juncture of early moments of disparity and interdependence between complexity, on the one hand, and certainty on the other. Starting at the unknown, the immeasurably immense ultimate uncertainty, perception is shaped through fear, self-protection and subject to survival instincts. And so, crude metaphysics makes the trunk rooted in “poetic wisdom” with a natural mixture of limited sensuous cognition and unlimited imagination—or one striving beyond the fetters of immediate reality, logic, ethics, economics and politics which are all poetic sciences to Vico—branch out. On the other side of those branches, physics extends into chronology and geography—the most certain—in agreement that the faculties of the human mind, including imagination, may not be outside of physics: the trunk from whence all knowledge cometh, and by the laws of which life is governed. Past validating human uncertainty as a measure of complexity—not lack of knowledge—in scientific inquiry, key concepts in Vico’s The New Science, such as imagination, reason, creativity and science, maintain pressing relevance to examining complexity today, enabling consideration of their relevance between Vico’s time and today, while maintaining that the uncertainty of imagination and the pragmatism of physics are but facets of the equally plausible constitution of a universal order. View Full-Text
Keywords: Giambattista Vico; complexity; political theory; Law of Nature; governance Giambattista Vico; complexity; political theory; Law of Nature; governance
MDPI and ACS Style

Al-Douri, T. On the Complexity of the Universal Order in Vico’s Establishing Principles. Systems 2017, 5, 31.

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