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Dante and Theology in Vico’s Philosophy of History
Tuesday, September 14, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT
Domenico Pietropaolo, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
In Vico’s theory of the Ideal Eternal History of civilization, Dante appears as the Homer of the late Middle-Ages, which Vico regarded as a typological return of the heroic age of the ancient Mediterranean in Christian Europe. A central principle of Vico’s philosophy of history is that, in the creative imagination of every age, poetry and metaphysics, including theology, are inversely related. Vico knew that this principle was at odds with Dante’s Commedia, in which one could not easily separate poetry from theology or metaphysics without dissolving away the text itself. He struggled with the problem for a long time, periodically revisiting details of it as he elaborated both his philosophy of history and his theory of the creative imagination. In this lecture we shall examine salient aspects of his ongoing reflection on the Commedia and his chief arguments for a general hermeneutic grounded in the idea of a Christian ricorso of the poetic age of the ancient Mediterranean.
Professor Domenico Pietropaolo was President of CIMS for several years. He is professor of Italian literature and theatrical studies at the University of Toronto, where he was also director of the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama and the Department of Italian Studies as well as Dean of St. Michael’s College. His main interests are the dramaturgy of staging and the study of theatrical processes, medieval Italian literature, modern theatre and Futurism. His main publications include the volumes Semiotics of the Christian Imagination, Semiotics and Pragmatic of Stage Improvisations and Dante studies in the Age of Vico and numerous essays on literary and theatrical history.