Friday, October 22, 2004

Benzene 4 Book Review - Lew, Language, Pinker, Holmes and the Law

Benzene 4 Book Review - Lew, Language, Pinker, Holmes and the Law

Mark D. Lew at Benzene 4 has a book review of Steven Pinkers' The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (1994).

We certainly do not follow all of Pinker's logic on language, and we also can not agree with statements such as these by Pinker, cited by Lew:

"A general statement of irregularity and the human condition comes from the novelist Marguerite Yourcenar: "Grammar, with its mixture of logical rule and arbitrary usage, proposes to a young mind a foretaste of what will be offered to him later on by law and ethics, those sciences of human conduct, and by all the systems wherein man has codified his instinctive experience.""

No ranking legal scholar would ever subscribe to the idea that "man has codified his instinctive experience" in law, as if this were somehow distinctive from "actual experience". We find that the codification of law is "dinstinctive" rather than instinctive.

As Holmes wrote in The Common Law (1881). :

The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience. The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, even the prejudices which judges share with their fellow-men, have had a good deal more to do than the syllogism in determining the rules by which men should be governed. The law embodies the story of a nation's development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics. In order to know what it is, we must know what it has been, and what it tends to become. We must alternately consult history and existing theories of legislation. But the most difficult labor will be to understand the combination of the two into new products at every stage. The substance of the law at any given time pretty nearly corresponds, so far as it goes, with what is then understood to be convenient; but its form and machinery, and the degree to which it is able to work out desired results, depend very much upon its past.

Instinct has little to do with it.

Al Nye Book Reviews

Al Nye Book Reviews

Al Nye has started a legal weblog with numerous book reviews on his site.

We thought we would list those books already reviewed, even though the blog only started this October. As Al writes:

"If you look at the sidebar, you'll notice lots of books that I've reviewed. Some of them are a year or two old now -- but since the book industry published about a gazillion books each year, there may be some gems that you missed.

I'll be publishing reviews of more recent books in the coming days and weeks -- including The Shadow of Justice by Milton Hirsch, a lawyer in Miami. This is the first work of fiction ever published by the American Bar Association."


1. SUPREME COURT AND APPELLATE ADVOCACY by David C. Frederick (ABA)
2. THE LAWYER’S GUIDE TO MARKETING ON THE INTERNET, 2nd ed. by Gregory H. Siskind, Deborah McMurray and Richard P. Klau (West Group)
3. COLLECTING YOUR FEE - Getting Paid from Intake to Invoice by Edward Poll (ABA)
4. Attorney and Law Firm Guide to THE BUSINESS OF LAW, 2nd by Edward Poll (ABA)
5. HOW TO START & BUILD A LAW PRACTICE Platinum 5th Edition by Jay G. Foonberg (ABA)
6. THE DIVORCE TRIAL MANUAL by Lynne Z. Gold-Bikin and Stephen Kolodny (ABA)
7. UP COUNTRY by Nelson Demille (Warner Books)
8. THE KING OF TORTS by John Grisham (Doubleday)
9. BAD MEN by John Connolly (Atria Books)
10. ERAGON Inheritance Book One by Christopher Paolini (Alfred A. Knopf)
11. THE RULE OF LAWYERS How The New Litigation Elite Threatens America’s Rule of Law
by Walter K. Olson (St. Martin’s Press)
12. LINCOLN'S VIRTURES An Ethical Biography by William Lee Miller (Alfred A. Knopf)
13. PRETTY DEAD by Gerry Boyle (Berkley Publishing Group)
14. HOME BODY by Gerry Boyle (Berkley Publishing Group)
15. MISSION FLATS by William Landay (Delacourt Press)
16. REVERSIBLE ERRORS by Scott Turow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
17. DEAD LINE by Brian McGrory (Atria Books)
18. PARANOIA by Joseph Finder (St. Martin's Press)
19. TAMPA BURN by Randy Wayne White (G. P. Putnam's Sons)

Cross-posted to LawPundit.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Bright Weavings - The Books of Guy Gavriel Kay

Bright Weavings - The Books of Guy Gavriel Kay

Bright Weavings is a site devoted to the worlds of Guy Gavriel Kay in his books, but it is not his website.

One of the books by Kay is The Lions of Al-Rassan, where we find the following quotation via Byzantium's Shores:

"Make your country...into a land that understands more than only war and righteous piety. Allow space in your lives for more than battle chants to inspire soldiers. Teach your people to...understand a garden, the reason for a fountain, music."

-The Lions of Al-Rassan, Guy Gavriel Kay"

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