Thursday, February 10, 2005

Nietzschean Jurisprudence?

What one finds on the internet! While searching to see if anyone had drawn paralells between Sir Thomas More's opposition to a royal divorce and remarriage and the opposition of Saint Plato, I come across a law review essay titled GAY SCIENCE AS LAW: AN OUTLINE FOR A NIETZSCHEAN JURISPRUDENCE. Say "Nietzschean" and jurisprudence isn't the first thing that comes to my mind, so I found it pleasantly surprising. At present I don't have the mental acuity to engage it, but here are a few selections I liked:

First, it refers to a short story of Jorge Luis Borges, The Lottery in Babylon. I think I really need to read Borges. Here's a selection from the story:
Like all the men of Babylon, I have been proconsul; like all, I have been a slave. I have known omnipotence, ignominy, imprisonment. Look here—my right hand has no index finger. Look here—through this gash in my cape you can see on my
stomach a crimson tattoo—it is the second letter, Beth. On nights when the moon is full, this symbol gives me power over men with the mark of Gimel, but it subjects me to those with the Aleph, who on nights when there is no moon owe obedience to those marked with the Gimel. In the half-light of dawn, in a cellar, standing before a black altar, I have slit the throats of sacred bulls. Once, for an entire lunar year, I was declared invisible—I would cry out and no one would heed my call, I would steal bread and not be beheaded. I have known that thing the Greeks knew not—uncertainty.

The second selection I enjoyed is a description of how Nietzchean education would work:

While liberal education and indeed any form of collective education is geared toward the production of conformist students, Nietzschean education is about the self-discovery of power through what we may call “constructive repression”—a developing power’s encounter with a formidable one (the latter in Nietzschean, not social, terms). An autocratic mentor may be assigned to a student, gradually oppressing her through discourse. No reactive—i.e., conscious—forces are encouraged in the student to realize and act on her situation. The student may become subservient at first, but through her active powers she begins to emerge against the mentor’s manipulative power (again we encounter the theme of resistance discussed
above). The struggle is not about truth or falsehood—still decadent, reactive concepts—but about power; and the student begins her emancipation when she realizes and experiences it as a matter of will to power rather than of normativity. To this end the educator himself
never says what he himself thinks, but always what he thinks of a thing in relation to the requirements of those he educates. He must not be detected in this dissimulation; it is part of his mastery that one believes in his honesty. . . . Such an educator is beyond good and evil; but no one must know it.(The Will to Power, paragraph 980)

That makes me want to make a very ill-informed "Nietzschean" analysis of Allan Bloom's lament that Nietzschean "values-talk" has so permeated American society.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Professorial Urban Legends

Some 19th century wag, Twain I think, commented that it's not what you don't know that's so bad, it's what you do know that ain't so. A sociology professor I once had derisively proclaimed that a dispensationalist Secretary of the Interior during the Reagan years insisted that we should use up all our natural resources because Jesus was coming soon. Get Religion has the full story.