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The Law: Like God, Like Sex

MCDONALD, Angus (2010) The Law: Like God, Like Sex. Contemporary Issues in Law, 10 (4). pp. 293-312. ISSN 1357-0374

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Abstract or description

This paper proposes connections between the projects of law, religion and erotics, through asking the question how law happens, and seeking an answer by means of observations on how faith happens and how sadism happens. The comparisons are developed primarily through readings of two novels, Leonardo Sciascia's Equal Danger and Robert Musil's Young Torless. The Sciascia novel is the subject of the larger part of the discussion, centring on the comparison between a judge delivering judgment and a priest administering mass, a link made by a character in the novel. The fruitfulness of this metaphor is tested by situating the pairing in the contexts of religious considerations on secular authority derived from Calvin and Luther, and of the tension between professional legal judgment and lay opinion derived from Voltaire and Hegel. The second theme, of law related to erotics and sadism, is derived from a reading of the Musil novel, centring on law's role in performing punishment. The transition from judgment to punishment passes through brief considerations of these themes in two other novels, Fred Willard's Down On Ponce and William Muir's The 18th Pale Descendent. By means of these readings certain tentative conclusions on the possibility and plausibility of viewing law as a sort of sadistic divinity are proposed, indicating that thinking about how that mechanism works might indeed illuminate our understanding of how law happens, treating this last question as something more than a functionalist enquiry and giving due weight to the role of the irrational in law's construction.

Item Type: Article
Faculty: Previous Faculty of Business, Education and Law > Law
Depositing User: Angus MCDONALD
Date Deposited: 02 May 2013 09:31
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:38

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