By Stephen M. Feldman
American criminal concept has advanced remarkably fast from premodernism to modernism and into postmodernism in little over two hundred years. this article tells the tale of this mercurial trip of jurisprudence by way of displaying the improvement of criminal idea via those 3 highbrow periods.
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Extra resources for American legal thought from premodernism to postmodernism : an intellectual voyage
To take an example familiar to attorneys, some constitutional modernists maintain that a reader of the Constitution must somehow reconstruct in his or her own consciousness the intentions of the framers, as memorialized in the constitutional text. 54 Contrary to this modernist vision of interpretation, Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics maintains that a text is never an object in the modernist sense: no uninterpreted or foundational source of meaning stands outside of or prior to interpretation.
According to Gadamer’s conception of the circle, interpretation has two sides: on the one side, tradition limits the vision of the interpreter as he or she approaches the text, yet on the other side, tradition does not exist unless people constantly create and recreate it through the interpretive process itself. The latter side emphasizes that tradition is created as an ever new meaning of the text comes into being: as we participate in tradition by interpreting texts, we transform and reconstruct that tradition.
Gadamer asserts that a reader or other interpreter is never an independent and autonomous subject who freely or arbitrarily imposes meaning on a text. Instead, an interpreter always is situated in a communal “tradition” that inculcates the individual with prejudices and interests, which then constrain and direct the understanding of any text (or text-analogue, which is any event, action, or other entity that can be understood or read as if it were a text). One ’s life within a community and its traditions necessarily limits one’s range of vision—what one can possibly see or understand in a text.