In the Beginning Was the Word: Paradigms of Language and Normativity in Law, Philosophy, and Theology
Mountbatten Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 5, 2001
34 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2006
This essay attempts to delineate, trace, and reconstruct the main features of three interacting language paradigms significant in legal discourse, practice and theory: rhetoric, representationalism, and performativity. The examples discussed are narratives of institutionalized and customary law that share linguistic attributes with literary forms and theological puzzles. Law, as a complex linguistic activity, is thus placed in a long tradition of linguistic theory ranging from Plato and Protagoras to Wittgenstein, Austin and the linguistic turn (Sapir-Whorf); as well as supernatural uses of law, exercised both by divine fiat and lesser practices - namely the linguistic aspects of magic - especially in determining rights and settling disputes.
Keywords: legal language, rhetoric, performativity, theology, representationalism, linguistic turn and law, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, law and magic
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