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How Star Wars Illuminates Constitutional Law

13 Pages Posted: 13 May 2015 Last revised: 22 Aug 2015

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: May 11, 2015

Abstract

Human beings often see coherence and planned design when neither exists. This is so in movies, literature, history, economics, and psychoanalysis – and constitutional law. Contrary to the repeated claims of George Lucas, its principal author, the Star Wars series was hardly planned in advance; it involved a great deal of improvisation and surprise, even to Lucas himself. Serendipity and happenstance, sometimes in the forms of eruptions of new thinking, play a pervasive and overlooked role in the creative imagination, certainly in single-authored works, and even more in multi-authored ones extending over time.

Serendipity imposes serious demands on the search for coherence in art, literature, history, and law. That search leads many people (including Lucas) to misdescribe the nature of their own creativity and authorship. The misdescription appears to respond to a serious human need for sense-making and pattern-finding, but it is a significant obstacle to understanding and critical reflection. Whether Jedi or Sith, many authors of constitutional law are a lot like the author of Star Wars, disguising the essential nature of their own creative processes.

Keywords: star wars, constitutional law, serendipity, authorship, multiple equlibria

Suggested Citation

Sunstein, Cass R., How Star Wars Illuminates Constitutional Law (May 11, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2604998 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2604998

Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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