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What calls for thinking about law? What does it mean to think about? What is aboutness? Could it be that law, in its essence, has not yet been thought about? In exploring these questions, this book closely reads Heidegger's thought, especially his later poetical writings. Heidegger's transformation of the very notion and process of thinking has destabilizing implications for the formation of any theory of law, however critical this theory may be. The transformation of thinking also affects the notions of ethics and morality, and the manner in which law relates to them. Interpretations of Heidegger's unique understanding of notions such as 'essence,' 'thinking,' 'language,' 'truth,' and 'nearness' come together to indicate the otherness of the essence of law from what is referred to as the 'legal.' If the essence of law has not yet been thought about, what generates deafness to the call for such thinking, thereby entrenching a refuge for legalism? The ambit of the legal is traced to Levinasian ethics, especially to his notion of otherness, despite such a notion being apparently highly critical of the totality of the legal. In entrenching the legal, it is argued that Levinas's notion of otherness does not reflect thinking that is otherwise than ontology, but rather radicalizes a derivative ontology. A call for thinking about law is then connected to Heideggerian ontologically based otherness upon which an ethics that the essence of law enforces is grounded.
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Oren Ben-Dor teaches legal and political philosophy at the School of Law, University of Southampton. He is the author of Constitutional Limits and the Public Sphere, Hart Publishing, 2000.Review:
Thinking about Law is a fascinating and rich study about access to justice. It is a rich study because it draws heavily from the pre-Socratic view of justice and the relation of the Hebrew language with justice. It is fascinating because it takes on critical and analytic approaches to law. William E. Conklin ...I have been reading and re-reading parts of Thinking about Law: In Silence with Heidegger. Wonderful! A major achievement. This is one of the most important jurisprudence books for a number of years.' Costas Douzinas, Professor of Law, Birkbeck College, Nov 07 ...[Oren Ben-Dor] develops a close reading firstly of Heidegger through a dense series of numbered paragraphs, and then deploys a discussion of Levinas to establish the ethical other from which a discussion of the essence of law, that does not include the legal as its central aspect, can be constructed. Christopher May Political Studies Review Vol 7 (1), 2009 Martin Heidegger, that 'greatest of thinkers, but smallest of men', has not been served particularly well by legal philosophers. That is, not until the publication of Oren Ben-Dor's Thinking about Law. In the opinion of this reviewer, this subtle and detailed analysis of the contribution of Heidegger's thought to our understanding of law constitutes an original and important contribution to both legal theory and Heidegger's scholarship.This is a book that should be read by anyone with a serious interest in a phenomenology of law, and what it means to construct legal theory.it constantly confronts us with the radical differences between the transcendental perspective of continental phenomenology and English-speaking analytical philosophy. Ben-Dor certainly seems conscious to this, and builds complexity of the text as he progresses.It is an impressive piece of scholarship and a book that will reward re-reading. Julian Webb Legal Studies Volume 29 No.2
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