Creon's Ghost Law Justice and the Humanities

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Creon's Ghost examines the enduring problem of the relationship between man's law and a "higher" law from the perspective of core humanities texts and through discussion of hotly debated contemporary legal conundrums. Today, such issues as intelligent design in school curricula, same-sex marriage, and faith-based government grants are all examples of the interaction between man's law and some other set of moral principles. As these debates are considered in this book, the author uses texts such as Antigone and Plato's Republic and pairs them with the most important jurisprudence texts of the 20th century to explore different approaches to the contemporary conflict or court ruling under consideration.

Creon's Ghost demonstrates that the humanities can both illuminate our understanding of contemporary problems and that "classic" texts can be read alongside jurisprudential texts, thus enriching our understanding of and appreciation for law.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book revisits an old and enduring problem—the conflict between the law of the state and higher law. It does so in a bracing and fresh way, using classic humanities texts, legal philosophy, and legal cases to illustrate how humans have engaged and are engaging in an ongoing struggle for justice. Tomain is a subtle and sophisticated reader and an expert practitioner of interdisciplinary study. As a result, he is able to call our attention to continuities and discontinuities in the ways societies have confronted the tension between what the state asks of us and what our moral scruples demand from us. In doing so he makes a truly valuable contribution to the literature."
—Austin Sarat,
Amherst College

"Creon's Ghost is like a great wave that carries its readers across centuries of argument about the relationship between our laws and our moral convictions. It is a thrilling and fascinating ride the whole way through. Joseph Tomain has a rare gift for bringing high theory to the lowly and difficult cases to which it should apply. Creon's Ghost haunts these arguments because, like Creon in condemning Antigone, no legal system can ever fully satisfy—or fully silence—our deepest moral intuitions and passions. The book is rich with analysis and detail, providing a full curriculum of theories and cases. It leaves its readers not with a simplifying and purportedly final theory but with a welcome sense of the tragic incompleteness of all our efforts to do justice."
—Thomas Gerety,
New York University School of Law

"Long concerned about legal education's pragmatic directions, Dean Joseph Tomain developed this exciting narrative mingling in one cohesive whole issues drawn from classical and contemporary jurisprudence, literature, and political theory. Beginning with Antigone, Tomain asks where Creon went astray in his rageful reductionistic legal positivist approach. This classical event sets the stage for the creative interplay of law, literature and political theory. Issues are developed historically from Plato, Aquinas, and Machiavelli on to Austin, Judge Holmes and into the twentieth century concluding with Stuart Hampshire's thoughtful account of reasoning and argument. Literary examples from A Man for All Seasons and Uncle Tom's Cabin, among others, add an enticing thrust to this readable analysis. A must read for everyone interested in transcending the pragmatic legal theory so common in contemporary legal education."
—Anthony J. Lisska,
Denison University

"Two essential questions, what is law? what is justice?, are at the core of every human society. These questions were first addressed in world literature by Sophocles in his Antigone, told through the story of Creon. In his own masterpiece, Creon's Ghost, Joseph Tomain reformulates and recreates the eternal conflict between law and justice. Within a deeply insightful process of exposition critically avoiding both orthodox legal and humanities analysis, Creon's Ghost reveals the truths of law and justice through a series of totally compelling and brilliantly interwoven conversations about texts taken from law, drama, literature, philosophy, theology, and poetry. Creon's Ghost is an indispensable contribution to the great conversation— in law, in literature, and in the humanities—about what it means to be human."
—Lawrence Joseph,
St. John's University School of Law

"Creon's Ghost is learned, wise, and most of all challenging. It challenges us to confront a central question of any legal system: What is the relation between the limits of human law and the desire for justice under higher law? The book explores the responses to this challenge given in law, philosophy, and literature, from Plato and Aquinas to Holmes and Martin Luther King. Lawyers, humanists, and all thoughtful citizens will be engaged by its narrative and analysis and pressed to examine their own beliefs about law and justice."
—Jay M. Feinman,
Rutgers University School of Law, Camden

"This book is a worthy engagement with our concern for trying to achieve a modicum of justice in an unfair world, and with the extent to which legal institutions stifle or advance such natural efforts. Humans have never not been able to think about such matters; yet here, Dean Tomain manages to deepen and to complicate our all but inevitable yearning to create a stable response to these perennial dilemmas of the human fix. It is a masterful achievement."
—Tom Eisele,
University of Cincinnati

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195333411
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/16/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Ch. I Creon's Ghost 1

Ch. II Shadows and Light 33

Ch. III Rule and Measure 63

Ch. IV The Ancient Courts of Ancient Men 93

Ch. V Law Breaking 125

Ch. VI Law's Practical Theory 157

Ch. VII Timeliness and Justice 187

Ch. VIII A Poet Dies 217

Conclusion 245

Notes 255

Index 303

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