Francis Mootz, ‘Corpus Linguistics and Vico’s Lament: Against Vivisectional Jurisprudence’

… In this essay I argue against the deep impulse that motivates the contemporary turn to corpus linguistics precisely because this enticing ‘new’ method reinscribes the profoundly misguided theoretical premise of modern law that there are ontological and epistemological distinctions between the law and its application to a specific case. In his oration at the commencement of the 1708 term at the University of Naples, Giambattista, Vico lamented the abandonment of rhetorical understanding and the misguided embrace of Cartesian analysis as the model of genuine knowledge. The past three centuries have borne witness to this slavish adherence to a focus on objective and empirical inquiry, neglecting the unavoidable role of rhetorical persuasion in legal meaning. My essay proceeds in the spirit of Vico’s great oration. I urge that, at long last, we should return to a conception of legal meaning as rhetorical knowledge.

Mootz, Francis J III, Corpus Linguistics and Vico’s Lament: Against Vivisectional Jurisprudence, Nevada Law Journal volume 20 issue 3, article 2 (2020).

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