Friday, 15 January 2016

What is postmodernist jurisprudence?

Postmodernist jurisprudence often runs parallel to critical legal theory. The essence of postmodernism is 'deconstruction' and 'skepticism'. Additionally, postmodern legal theorists are also against 'structuralism'. Critical legal theory, as we know it, is a repudiation of the natural order of things, for example:
  1. Repudiation of patriarchy - Feminist Jurisprudence
  2. Repudiation of the concept of race - Critical Race Theory
  3. Repudiation of the free market - Critical Legal Theory
  4. Repudiation of meta-narratives - Postmodern Legal Theory
The basic concepts of critical legal theory lie herein that:
  • Law reproduces political & economic power (Law is decided by politics and money)
  • Law is a spurious legitimacy
  • Law is not distinctive and discreet
  • Fictions and illusions are foundations of legal paradigm
To take up one of the postmodern theorists, Jean Francois Lyotard, would serve a good purpose here. To him, "Postmodernism is incredibility towards metanarratives." 'Reification' of Freudian hegemonic consciousness, Hegel's transcendental idealism cannot possibly be true was a core concept in this theory. He emphasized that real-world issues become more 'exteriorized' from its knowers in the form of automatic calculation and informal storage and retrieval of the information. In his sense, he says, these become 'data' - separated from context, pre-requisites or other idealism.
To Lyotard, as disciplines become more and more specialized, more and more developed in search of precision and specificity, there ceases to be a general universal unity among these. Further interesting is his concept of 'metanarrative', which says it is a narrative about narratives which offers a societal legitimization through an anticipated master idea. It is indeterminate in nature. There are three types of metanarratives:
  1. NINO = Normative from normative (Normative In, Normative Out)
  2. DINO = Normative from descriptive (Descriptive In, Normative Out)
  3. DIDO = Descriptive from Descriptive (Descriptive In, Descriptive Out)
To go into the details of these would be an unending process in itself. To see more, please refer to the book The Planning Theory of Law.
His main theory is that, now, in the modern world, we are not controlled by 'extra-linguistic value paradigms' that define ultimate purpose and universality of meaning, but by mechanically automated responses to 'language games'. He opposes universality, generality and consensus and seeks to replace the metanarratives by localized narratives.
Postmodern legal theory is a very vast and diverse subject, but its very essence lies in what I have simplified for you to understand.

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