The Twilight of European Philosophy of Law

  • Rok Svetlič


The question about the European values is the question about the differentia specifica of our legal self-understanding. These values, for example, can best be recognized at the geographical borders, where a set of specific values tends to get more obvious. This way, however, it is only the more general western values that become transparent. The thesis of this paper is that the differentia specifica of European legal self-understanding can be described only in its distinction from the American legal identity. The dif-ferentiating issue here is the metaphysics of 19th and 20th centu-ries, which has had its foremost influence only in the European cultural environment, and introduces the project of constructing an entirely new world and destroying the existing one. Even the traumatic experience of various totalitarianisms has not spelt the end to the fixation on utopian ideals. Its destructive effects can be recognized at three levels:1) The sentiment of mistrust affects the judiciary, in that the respect for jurisdiction is low; judges are stripped of authority, and expected to be just viva vox legis. 2) The sentiment of waiting is typical for legislative; the appearance of “just, equal, far” etc. world is still to come; which in turn neces-sities a voting system that allows for as many “ideas” as possible (i.e. parties) are allowed to get into the parliament. And finally 3) the sentiment of guilt affects the executive power. It is reflected in the destruction of the penal system which consequently becomes progressively more ineffective.


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