Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Empty Cap's Feather

Why attend a class called "Law, Politics, and Human Nature"? Even the students can't seem to tell.

Selections from Hobbes' Leviathan were assigned for this week's meeting. One of the two professors teaching the class raved over the prose style and the cleverness of the author. He also mentioned that, in his words, "I read it again over the weekend..." A student giggled at that.



In a graduate program; no, more than that, in a graduate program dealing with subject matter related closely to the humanities, in a seminar, participation in which is voluntary, named "Law, Politics, and Human Nature", can you really be surprised if someone reads Hobbes in his spare time?

What else is reading Hobbes for, do you think?

A student who chose to take this class apparently has other goals than learning for its own sake. Now, if you're in law school to become a lawyer and make a pile of cash, that's understandable. But then you'd probably take Civil Pretrial Practice, for instance, instead of this philosophical seminar.

So why do it?

If it's inconceivable that someone could read Hobbes simply because he wants to know more about...Hobbes, then why would one read Leviathan? Because a professor tells you? Then we're stuck wondering why the professor wants us to read it, and why the professor reads it. Purely as a signal? "Look at me, I'm smart enough to read Hobbes"?

After four years of undergrad and two and a half years in a (technically...) doctoral program, why haven't you fathomed the bare existence of the vita contemplativa, much less the rich and full nature of its practice?

I admit that I sometimes chuckle at what my friends are reading for pleasure, and my reading material is a subject of ridicule sometimes for its abstruseness. But, you know, people get that hard books aren't things you just read in school.

Some people get that. Law students don't.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home