Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Language of Bureaucracy: Rostam J. Neuwirth, "Law in the Time of Oxymora A Synaesthesia of Language, Logic and Law"

I am happy to pass along news of the publication of Rostam J. Neuwirth, Law in the Time of Oxymora: A Synaesthesia of Language, Logic and Law (Routledge 2018). A rich work, it addresses the fundamental challenges to legal reasoning and legal logic and also open a broad debate on the consequences that these linguistic changes are likely to trigger. The relation of the project of reasoning to the transformation of the meaning and structures of communication within enterprises, and especially universities, may be quite useful. 

This from the publication materials (the abstract follows).
In the time of “alternative facts”, “Yanny and Laurel” or other oxymoronic phenomena, the “law and society” debate faces a plethora of serious challenges that are often framed in individual “law and … pairs”, like those of “law and technology”, “law and language” or “law and the senses” to mention but three. However, such dichotomous thinking underlying law at large is increasingly facing pressure from so-called “essentially oxymoronic concepts” and may no longer be able to deal with the pace of change and complexity in the real world.

Rostam J. Neuwirth, Law in the Time of Oxymora: A Synaesthesia of Language, Logic and Law (Routledge 2018).

What do different concepts like true lie, bad luck, honest thief, old news, spacetime, glocalization, symplexity, sustainable development, constant change, soft law, substantive due process, pure law, bureaucratic efficiency and global justice have in common? What connections do they share with innumerable paradoxes, like the ones of happiness, time, globalization, sex, and of free will and fate?

Law in the Time of Oxymora provides answers to these conundrums by critically comparing the apparent rise in recent years of the use of rhetorical figures called "essentially oxymoronic concepts" (i.e. oxymoron, enantiosis and paradoxes) in the areas of art, science and law. Albeit to varying degrees, these concepts share the quality of giving expression to apparent contradictions. Through this quality, they also challenge the scientific paradigm rooted in the dualistic thinking and binary logic that is traditionally used in the West, as opposed to the East, where a paradoxical mode of thinking and fuzzy logic is said to have been cultivated.

Following a review of oxymora and paradoxes in art and various scientific writings, hundreds of "hard cases" featuring oxymora and a comprehensive review of the legal literature are discussed, revealing evidence suggesting that the present scientific paradigm of dualism alone will no longer be able to tackle the challenges arising from increasing diversity and complexity coupled with an apparent acceleration of change. Law in the Time of Oxymora reaches the surprising conclusion that essentially oxymoronic concepts may inaugurate a new era of cognition, involving the ways the senses interact and how we reason, think and make decisions in law and in life.

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