The King's one too many eyes: Language, thought, and comparative law


In recent years, research in comparative law has become increasingly diversified. Even so, mainstream comparative law continues to be generally concerned with function, efficiency, or linear history. There are, of course, dissidents - and a significant part of them think that language provides firmer grounds for a genuine investigation of the other. In this essay, I join the numerous voices of those who find current comparative law unsatisfactory, and I argue in favor of what - drawing on, yet not fully subscribing to, the existential analytics of Martin Heidegger - I call poetic, or meditating, comparisons of law. In the proposed characterization, poetic comparisons have little if anything to do with poetry or any other form of representational thought. Instead, poetic comparisons recognize how certain fundamental concepts on which comparative law is based (beginning with language) need urgently to be thought again - by, first, embarking on the imponderable but necessary enterprise of thinking thought afresh. It is only by thinking thought afresh that comparative lawyers can hope meaningfully to address some hitherto unthought-of, deeply problematic changes that appear to be reshaping modernity - changes such as those that have been taking place in the West since World War II, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and now 9/11.



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