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Legal Theory and the Media of Law

Thomas Vesting

As many disciplines in the humanities have experienced a focus on culture’s impact in recent decades, questions surrounding the significance of media such as writing, print and computer networks have become increasingly relevant. This book seeks to demonstrate that a media and cultural theory perspective can also be highly productive for legal theory.
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Thomas Vesting

Preface and acknowledgements


1.  Introduction: Legal theory as media theory

     The dependence of (media) theory on media

     The culture and epistemology of networks

     Further consequences for legal theory

2.  Language, media, subjectivity

     Language as such

     Language theory and media theory

     Language of man?

3.  On the orality of oral cultures

     Knowledge – Certain conceptual clarifications

     Fostering the continuity of tradition

     Integration of the individual into oral tradition

4.  Oral legal culture and the “ethics” of the gift

     Law-making and the oral way of life

     Referential contexts

     Confidence and trust as necessary infrastructure

5.  Traces of oral legal culture in Homer (and Hesiod)

     Could Homer write?

     Themis, dike, nomos

     The poetic form of law


6.  Hot writing and cool

     Theory of writing

     Evolution of writing

     Uses of writing

7.  Tradition and innovation in writing cultures

     Writing and writing culture

     Greek alphabetic writing and epistemic knowledge

     Evolution of the inner human being

8.  Transitions to writing in law

     The “incarnation” of law in kingdoms of the Ancient Near East

     Athens and the “excarnation” of law

     By way of further comparison: Early Roman law

9.  Specialist writing: Roman civil law

     Legal culture of the Roman Republic

     Further characteristics of epistemic formalism

     The other side of epistemic formalism

10. The comprehensive text of Jewish law

     The Torah as a foundational text

     Flexibilization of writing

     The law and the community of interpretation


11. The parchment codex and the “spirit” of Christianity

     A new cultural rupture

     “Horizontal” and “vertical” hermeneutics

     The “outerworldly” individual

12. Print culture, print epistemology

     The printed book

     An epistemological turning point


13. “Incarnation” of sovereignty

     Absolute monarchy

     Media of the King

     The Ancien Régime of identity

14. “Excarnation” of sovereignty

     Preliminary considerations

     The printed constitution

     Making the constitution

15. The cultural framework of the liberal state


     Individualization of law

     Modern democracy


16. Mass media and mass culture

     The rise of mass culture

     A “flat” world of relations

     The polyphonic soundbox

17. The culture and epistemology of networks

     The computer as medium

     A new order of knowledge

     The interlinked “relational” subject

18. Constitutionalism

     Changing media, changing constitutions


     Beyond the printed constitution

19. Statehood and democracy

     Print culture and the liberal state

     Mass culture and the welfare state

     Network culture and the network state

20. Further exemplary fields

     Marriage and family

     Schools and universities

     Communication and media