Psychoanalysis as the jurisprudence of freedom

In Francis J. Mootz & William S. Boyd (eds.), On Philosophy in American Law. Cambridge University Press (2009)
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What is the future of legal philosophy? No doubt it has many. But we are betting that jurisprudence will gravitate towards freedom. Freedom, the attribute of the human subject, has largely been absent from legal philosophy. This is a lack that psychoanalytic jurisprudence aims to correct. In this essay, drafted as chapter in "On Philosophy in American Law" (Francis Jay Mootz III, ed.) to be published by the Cambridge University Press, we set forth what we think are the primary differences between a jurisprudence based in the Continental tradition of speculative philosophy, and the liberal jurisprudences that dominate in the American academy. Most importantly, all liberal theories start with some intuition of the free, autonomous individual. In contrast, psychoanalysis views the subject's definition as the problem of philosophy. For psychoanalysis, as reformulated by Jacques Lacan, personality and freedom cannot exist in any empirical or hypothetical state of nature because nature is unfree - bound by iron-clad laws of cause and effect. Personality and freedom are artificial creations - hard-won achievements. Subjectivity - the capacity to bear duties and rights - is a stage in this struggle.



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