From Totem and Taboo to psychoanalytic jurisprudence

In M. Levine (ed.), The Analytic Freud. Routledge. pp. 277 (2000)
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This essays argues that Freud’s vision of the rule of law may be worthwhile pondering by legal scholars. It can heighten awareness of its unconscious dimensions and point to a variety of ways in which the law functions as part of culture or civilization, rather than as a system with its own rules. The first two parts of the essay seek to reconstruct Freud’s notion of the rule of law as a dialectical or paradoxical civilizatory force, restraining the passions even though they drive it. These two parts retrace Freud’s genealogy of the law’s prehistoric origins and unconscious dynamics, which can be found in Totem and Taboo and, in summary form, in Moses and Monotheism. Then, the third section critically assesses the problems and limitations of some of the uses legal scholars made of Freud’s genealogy. Finally, the essay returns to the intellectual context of Freud’s conception of the rule of law, concluding with the claim that a Freudian perspective implies, in fact, that legal studies should be conceived as cultural studies.
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