Melancholy of the Law

Law and Critique 33 (1):23-39 (2020)
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Abstract

The paper attempts to construct a theoretical account of what melancholy—in a psychoanalytical and cultural sense—may mean for jurisprudence. It argues that the map of relations and displacements between the object and the subject that is associated with melancholy in different psychoanalytical approaches can be fruitfully adopted for understanding of normativity. Based on a thorough re-reading of Freud’s Trauer und Melancholie, it suggests that there is an irremovable component of melancholy contained in the primordial act of separation of normativity from non-normative reality. This interpretation is confronted with Kelsen’s Theory of Pure Law in order to analyse in which respect the momentum of self-sufficiency within normativity entails structures of melancholy. Kelsen’s concept of ‘effectiveness’ is proposed as a key link which explains how melancholic withdrawal allows the law to interact with reality. Then the paper discusses Agamben’s theory of applicability and of the state of exception to demonstrate the law’s melancholic trap. Finally, the paper draws on Lacanian and post-Lacanian approaches to melancholy in order to investigate how melancholic momentum is inherent in the very structure of the law’s validity.

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References found in this work

Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Wittgenstein on rules and private language.Saul A. Kripke - 1982 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 173 (4):496-499.

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