Mikhail Lifshits and the Soviet image of Giambattista Vico

Mikhail Lifshits' interpretation of the scholarly work of the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico is analysed against the background of other Soviet interpretations. M. Lifshits authored the introductory article for the first complete translation of Vico's Scienza Nuova in 1940. In the second half of the 1930s, interest in Vico's 'historical theory of knowledge' was important for the struggle against so-called 'vulgar sociology' in the field of aesthetics and literary criticism. Besides this, Vico's theory of the 'historical cycle' was close to the interests M. Lifshits and G. Lukács and their circle in Stalin-era Moscow. This interest was connected with discussions about the preservation of the revolutionary impulse under the conditions of state socialism. However, such an interpretation of Vico (considering him only as a predecessor of Hegel's and Marx's philosophy of history) restricted a wide spectrum of his scholarly work. In particular, Lifshits, as an opponent of social-constructivism tradition, ignored Vico's well-known doctrine of verum factum.