LEGAL SYMBOLISM: ON LAW, TIME AND EUROPEAN IDENTITY by JIŘÍ PŘIBÁŇ

Publication Date01 Dec 2008
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2008.00450_4.x
AuthorADAM CZARNOTA
LEGAL SYMBOLISM: ON LAW, TIME AND EUROPEAN IDENTITY by
JIR
ÏI
ÂPR
ÏIBA
ÂN
Ï
(Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007, 222 pp., £55.00)
Jir
ÏõÂPr
ÏibaÂn
Ä's new book is published in the Ashgate Applied Philosophy
series. Probably it is not an accident but the conscious decision of the editor,
despite the fact that the author refers to himself a socio-legal scholar. The
title of the book is promising and indeed intriguing, especially its subtitle on
the relation between law, time, and European identity. The main subject of
the book is the relation between law (read as the positive legal system only),
politics, and morality. The author tries to present his legal theory of this
relationship and also analyse empirical experiences mainly from central
Europe and the European Union. Another unifying theme is a Luhmannian
systems theory approach to law as an autopoietic system.
In this short review it is impossible to do full justice to the detail of the
book but I will stress a few central points. Pr
ÏibaÂn
Ï's book shows the author's
erudition: he has asked plenty of very important questions, made a lot of
interesting comments, and last, but not least, formulated a number of
interesting hypotheses. His book is a contribution to discussion of a multi-
dimensional social theory of law, a theory which takes into account the
social functions of law, its legitimacy, extra-legal practices petrified by law
and, of course, types of connections between legal institutions and politics.
The unifying themes enumerated by author are: the concept of legal
symbolism, with its symbolic rationality as opposed to the instrumental
rationality of legality; legislation and collective identity mainly organized
around the demos/ethnos distinction, and, finally, the temporality of justice
and identity. These three themes provide the overarching frame of reference
for the book.
The book is divided into three parts. The first outlines Pr
ÏibaÂn
Ä's theory of
symbolic communication. In it the author describes the systemic differen-
tiation of law, politics, and morality and the symbolic rationality of law,
understood as the specific reflection by law of symbolic moral values and
cultural ideas. He also discusses the `spirit of law', tracing its historical roots
and contemporary manifestations. After that he discusses social time and the
temporality of systems of law, politics, and morality. Crucial is Pr
ÏibaÂn
Ï's
treatment of social time as heterogeneous.
The second part of the book, which I found most interesting, is devoted to
tensions in the process of identity-building in the context of the European
integration project. His socio-legal analysis of post-communist constitutional
developments is witty, interesting, and indeed enlightening. The same can be
said of the last part where Pr
ÏibaÂn
Ïdiscusses `dealing with the past' in post-
communist states from the point of view of his theory of legal symbolism.
The last two parts show the internal tensions between the social and
political processes discussed which I found a strong element of Pr
ÏibaÂn
Ï's
book.
571
ß2008 The Author. Journal Compilation ß2008 Cardiff University Law School

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT