A Structural Etiology of the U.S. Constitution

24 Pages Posted: 17 May 2016 Last revised: 18 Dec 2016

Date Written: December 5, 2016


This article offers an interpretation of the problems addressed by and the eventual purpose of the United States government. Simultaneously, it seeks to analyze and explain the continued three-part structure of the United States federal government as outlined in the Constitution. Subsequently I define the three parts of the federal government — judiciary, executive, and legislative — as explained through the lens of the Platonic paradigm of (logos = word = law), (thymos = external driving spirit = executive), and (eros = general welfare = legislative) extrapolated from Plato’s dialogues.

First, the article establishes Plato’s theory of the three-part Platonic soul as a major premise, as in a syllogism. Second, the article lays out the generally accepted division of the U.S. Constitution as creating three parts to the federal government as a minor premise. Third, the syllogism completes by weaving in the major premise of Plato’s soul into the three parts of the United States federal government. This third step of application suggests possible future evolution of the structure.

This article fits into the wider issue of the functionally efficient and naturally adaptive structure of the U.S. federal government. Providing a historical and philosophical context to this structural analysis will serve as a framework for future research on the operation of the federal government. When the branches of the federal government step out of their roles, the balance of the structure of the federal government becomes disrupted occurring in liminal periods of paradigmatic change.

Keywords: Plato, Law, Constitution, United States

Suggested Citation

Lincoln IV, Charles Edward Andrew, A Structural Etiology of the U.S. Constitution (December 5, 2016). Journal of Legislation, Vol. 43, No. 122, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2735425 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2735425

Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV (Contact Author)

University of Groningen, Faculty of Law ( email )


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