The Enchantment of Reason

Overview

The Enchantment of Reason is a lively critique of American legal thought and the American legal system’s deification of reason. In an attempt to understand the current malaise of American law and the depressed condition of American intellectual life in general, Pierre Schlag diagnoses what he believes is an epidemic of pathological reliance on the principle of reason. Contending that legal thinkers continually fail to recognize the aesthetic and ethical prejudices of rationalism, Schlag creates a genealogy that ...

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The Enchantment Of Reason

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Overview

The Enchantment of Reason is a lively critique of American legal thought and the American legal system’s deification of reason. In an attempt to understand the current malaise of American law and the depressed condition of American intellectual life in general, Pierre Schlag diagnoses what he believes is an epidemic of pathological reliance on the principle of reason. Contending that legal thinkers continually fail to recognize the aesthetic and ethical prejudices of rationalism, Schlag creates a genealogy that shows how the call to reason has become a manipulative vehicle of power, faith, and prejudice.
In examining the fierce resistance to questioning reason’s primacy, this renowned critic and professor of American law demonstrates how those who use and study the law perpetuate their own methodological blind spots. Claiming that reason has been endowed with a virtually mystical power to organize social life, Schlag unravels the seemingly rational world of judicial opinions, statutes, doctrines, and legal principles. In the process, he paints a shocking—and sure to be controversial—picture of the chaos and, indeed, violence of the American legal tradition.
This bold commentary on the irrationality of reason in American law and legal studies will interest not only legal scholars and philosophers but also serious thinkers across a broad disciplinary spectrum.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Pierre Schlag is one of the most exciting and interesting legal theorists now writing and this book shows all of his considerable virtues.”—James Boyle, Washington College of Law, American University

“This is an important contribution to the genre of jurisprudential reflection. It considers some of the most difficult and sophisticated issues on the current intellectual scene and, unlike much ‘postmodern’ scholarly production, it is clear, well-argued, and often brilliantly written.”—Gary Peller, Georgetown University Law Center

Richard Michael Fischl
...Schlag has set his sights on...the role of reason in law and legal theory....a brilliant and densely argued exploration of the consequences of...enchantment [with reason] for the professional practices of the legal academy....Schlag tugs the curtain back to explore the consequences of ...denial, and they are not pretty: "Reason is made to posit whatever is necessary for law to seem reasoned and rational....[But b]ecause law cannot be brought into conformity with reason, it is reason that is brought into conformity with law."
Jurist: The Law Professors' Network
Richard Michael Fischl
...Schlag has set his sights on...the role of reason in law and legal theory....a brilliant and densely argued exploration of the consequences of...enchantment [with reason] for the professional practices of the legal academy....Schlag tugs the curtain back to explore the consequences of ...denial, and they are not pretty: "Reason is made to posit whatever is necessary for law to seem reasoned and rational....[But b]ecause law cannot be brought into conformity with reason, it is reason that is brought into conformity with law."
Jurist: The Law Professors' Network
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822322146
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/1998
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.87 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Pierre Schlag is Byron White Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Colorado School of Law. He is a coauthor of Against the Law, also published by Duke University Press.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Following the Letter of the Law 1
1 Faith in the Power of Reason 19
The Stakes 20
The Rule of Reason 22
Central Command and the Big Tent 26
2 When Reason Runs Out 30
The Noble Scam 33
Nodding Heads Agree 37
Reason Rules 38
3 The Arguments for Reason 40
The Reasonableness of Reason 41
In Praise of Reason (The Argument from Virtue) 47
The Argument from Fate 53
Reason's Raison d'Etre 58
4 Predicaments of Reason 60
Belief in, for, and through Reason 61
Critical Reflexivity and Frame Construction 63
Working at a Useless Task 71
Activity and Order 76
Constitutive Vulnerabilities 78
Modesty 79
False Modesty: The Strange Case of Neopragmatism 81
Language Games about Language Games 86
Presumption 90
5 Divine Deceptions 92
Enchantment 95
The Ways of Enchantment 97
The Progressive Fallacy and the Last Laugh of Metaphysics 98
The Objectivist Aesthetic 100
The Subjectivist Aesthetic 104
The Roles of the Objectivist and the Subjectivist Aesthetic 106
"As If" Jurisprudence 108
The Transmigration of Authority 111
The Name of the Answer 112
When Reason Can't Stop Making Sense 115
From Virtual Law to Virtual Reason 119
Just the Facts 124
6 The Legal Self 126
Rationalism 127
Separating Self from Object 127
Separating Self from Context 128
Take This and Choose It 129
This Is Not a Stop Sign 131
False Empowerment 133
Free to Be Framed 135
Dominance and Submission 135
Epilogue: Reason without End 141
Boring and Dreary/Dreary and Boring 141
Nihilism 142
Life in the Grid - Running the Mazes 142
The Shallowness Problem 143
The Excessive Construction of Everything 144
Reason/Not 144
Notes 147
Index 157
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