The Ancient Wisdom of the Italians  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

De Antiquissima Italorum Sapientia (1710, The Ancient Wisdom of the Italians) is a treatise by Giambattista Vico in which he coined the verum factum principle. The principle states that truth is verified through creation or invention and not, as per Descartes, through observation: “The criterion and rule of the true is to have made it. Accordingly, our clear and distinct idea of the mind cannot be a criterion of the mind itself, still less of other truths. For while the mind perceives itself, it does not make itself.” This criterion for truth would later shape the history of civilization in Vico’s opus, the Scienza Nuova (The New Science, 1725), since he would argue that civil life — like mathematics — is wholly constructed.

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