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Jan M. Broekman

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Jan M. Broekman

Broadness and multidimensionality are the most striking features of the “rethinking” concept, because that concept always concerns what has been said in the past and what others bring us in the present tense. Even before beginning to rethink a certain theme, one respects and accepts words that were said. But rethinking is never a repetition: the treasures of thoughts and insights generated belong to multiple types of a language—we compare the jurist Hart and the writer Joyce as examples. Those thoughts function like a shining crystal. The emphasis is on speech, and speech is a particular style of lingual event, change of words, and the desire to restructure that characterizes any rethought theme; cultural dimensions are always at stake.

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Jan M. Broekman

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Jan M. Broekman

The frontispiece of Hobbes’ Leviathan became famous. This work of art represents the main lines of the philosopher/statesman’s ideas. They refer to: (a) the power of the Sovereign and the position of the citizen; (b) the composure of the Torso that symbolizes State and Sovereignty in the eyes of the citizen; (c) the main feature of language in function; (d) the features of individualism implied; and (e) the legal consequences of the frontispiece image. The latter focus on a contractual interpretation of social life under the power of the Sovereign, which appears as a prescript for the citizen’s speech. Hobbes introduces here a linguistic model, later named the “Speaker–Hearer Model,” which determines our understanding of language even now. Traditional interpretations of Hobbes’ thought do not notice that connotation, although it is foreshadowed in the frontispiece of his widely read book.

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Jan M. Broekman

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Jan M. Broekman

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Jan M. Broekman

The nineteenth-century German jurist von Savigny started his legal, academic, and political career with studies of the Napoleonic Code. He underlined its style, its language, and its reference to the concept of possession (documented as legal property); broadened his studies on Roman law to found legal science (he coined the term “Rechtswissenschaft”); and introduced notions such as “legal sources” and “hermeneutics.” The linguistic dimensions of law and legal science focused on (a) the Speaker position and (b) legal consciousness. The latter idea fits the larger framework of legal semiotics. Consciousness and communication come together in von Savigny’s notion of “the People” (Das Volk), which leads him to widen the traditional understanding of the “subject of law.” That theme has important political implications, for instance regarding when legal notions of social reality should grasp pluralities by means of a single pronoun: an outstanding linguistic issue in law and legal science.

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Jan M. Broekman

Charles S. Peirce inspired broader interest in the sign as a composite of the law–language relationship. Six domains in which the sign plays a role are indicated: “universe,” “science,” “language,” “communication,” “speech,” and “body–text relations.” The groundwork for legal semiotics is thus in significs as developed at the beginning of the twentieth century. Special attention is given to the Amsterdam Signific Circle, in particular the jurist, writer, philosopher, and politician J.I. de Haan, who held in 1916 the world’s first academic Chair in Legal Significs at Amsterdam University. His emphasis on function and essence of the “word” and his slogan “better language is better law” are analyzed. The Amsterdam mathematician and philosopher Gerrit Mannoury unfolded synthetic views on conceptualization—aspects in connection with the law–language theme were promoted in the same Circle and thus (in retrospect) also contributed to the study of signs and their signifying abilities.

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Jan M. Broekman

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Jan M. Broekman

Structuralism is the philosophical theme that influenced European thinking in the decades before and after World War II while emphasizing our thought patterns as expressed in lingual utterances. An overview of this philosophical mainstream (with centers in Moscow, Prague, and Paris, and fashionable on the US East Coast in the 1980s) focuses on socially important issues, such as genetics and cyberspace; on language patterns; and on speech as a sign of the necessarily dynamic character of language. Structuralism is also known for its critical considering of positions in speech events. The Speaker–Hearer Model and the central position of the subject as first person singular are involved in the process of decentering—a thesis touching basic philosophical options in law and linguistics. In connection with this, the concept of discourse is mentioned, illustrating its importance for legal language and hermeneutics as a well-structured theory of interpretation.