WISDOM AND LAW

law is blind

“…out of what knowledge does one make law?”[1] asked Jacques Lacan. What knowledge should the System possess that grants it the privilege of making laws? Knowledge or power? Or perhaps we should ask, what knowledge should power possess? Here the should hangs heavily: it should possess lots of knowledge, after all it is making the laws which means it is creating justice, and isn’t justice born out of wisdom? And doesn’t wisdom imply a possession of knowledge? But the should is heavy because this is not necessarily the case. In fact, the correct answer – correct according to praxis – is that power does not need any knowledge other than the dogma of its own ideology. Knowledge is variegated whilst ideology is monochrome. As such, knowledge has to be avoided by power as it starts to stain its own monotonous ideology with colour and this makes it too hard to clearly define one ideology from the others – so important when the time comes to vote. And so we see that it’s the democratic system, and indeed the demands of the voters themselves that creates this turning away from knowledge that seems so characteristic of the System and its Parliaments.

Power gives us laws, and what would wisdom or knowledge give us? A sense of grace or virtue: the acquiring of the habit of virtue. The System based on laws tells us what we must do, even though the demands of power may be a contradiction of real needs. For example anti-ecological, pro-consumerist laws like the commercial laws regulating planned obsolescence (notably the light-bulb conspiracy) at a time when resources are depleting; or laws that regulate abortion or other contraceptive methods in times when demographic expansion is becoming unsustainable. A system based on knowledge and virtue would be able to comprehend reality and real needs. If wisdom were to make laws instead of power, justice might even be possible.

Perhaps we need to take the blindfold off justice and let her see as well as hear.

law


[1] Jacques Lacan, SEMINAR XVII, XV22

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5 thoughts on “WISDOM AND LAW

  1. Perhaps, but as your article says, we use private law in many of our disputes anyway (e.g.: separations and divorces). The problem of justice arises when ethical laws are created by ideologies or religions, and justice becomes a term used to describe a way of implementing power over the whole society, state or empire. In order to determine what practices everyone should adhere to because there is a “necessity” behind that particular practice, a more objective wisdom needs to be implemented other than ideology or dogma. Sometimes ideology and dogma are wise, but the wisest thing is to be able to see the unwisdom in all dogma where it exists. I don’t think that private law would ever work in disputes between two ideologically or religiously opposed groups. Take the frustration of the Middle East for example. The Israeli/Palestinian dispute has been created by power trying to solve the problem through the use of power. This has obviously failed. Quite clearly in Palestine the solution will only be reached when the people there turn their backs on their own ideologies and dogmas, not necessarily rejecting what is obviously the backbone of their culture, but to the understanding that the only wise approach can be to surrender those principles to the cause of necessity. There is a need for lasting peace, act accordingly, and surrender whatever has to be surrended in order to obtain it. But in order for this to happen there has to be inculcated a universal awareness that – ideology and religious dogma are not necessities, only points of view that must bow down to a wisdom coming from knowledge.

  2. I think you underestimate private law. Think of maritime law accepted by different countries and different cultures for centuries. Most countries making up the United Nations are not at each other’s throats and ways are found to settle disputes peaceably despite widely different ideologies and religions. However, I agree with you that in actual fact there are only “points of view” or as Isaiah Berlin said, a multiplicity of different values in life and that a more just society is only likely to emerge when more people recognize this fact and become more accepting of the values of others.

  3. I write a comment each time I appreciate a post on a site or if I have something to
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    • Many thanks for expressing your appreciation Virginia. I do use facebook, although not in the academic way that I use the Blog.. if you want to connect there you will need to search for Paul Adkin and make a friend’s request I think. My novel Purgatory also has a facebook page. On twitter my address is: @AdkinPaul on LinkedIn: es.linkedin.com/pub/paul-adkin/30/ba/a45/
      My novel Purgatory is available at Booktango http://bookstore.booktango.com/Products/SKU-000654064/Purgatory.aspx (cheaper than on Amazon)
      Looking forward to hearing more from you.

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