New Vico Studies 22:49-61 (2004)
This discussion is an analysis of Vico’s account of the imaginative universals in the 1744 edition of the New Science in regard to the origin of number. The origin of number is a difficult problem for Vico because numbers are discursive concepts, yet Vico wants to fi nd their origin in mythical thought. Vico finds the origin of numbers in the power struggle between the heroes and the plebeians. The imaginative universal Mercury is the heroic act of granting bonitary ownership to the plebeians. However, Mercury is also the imaginative universal of marking heroic ownership. Number originates from the heroes emphasizing ownership by marking territory more than once. This explains several peculiar passages in the New Science, including Vico’s claims about the three frogs of France (NS par. 535)
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