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Working paper

17th Century Political Cartesianism and Its Opponents, Or Imaging the State from point fixe

This article examines the relation of two models of civil science in the early modern political literature: the rhetorical science of contingency (rhetorica primaria), and mathesis politica, associated with Descartes by some early Enlightenment authors. The authors analyze the reception of the rhetorical aspect of Hobbes’s civil science with a special focus on Vico’s criticism of Hobbes’s constructivist state model, showing how Vico counters the Hobbesian ‘protosociological’ style of theorizing with his own historical way of reflecting on the social and ‘open’ structure of political action.