Article  |  Volume 10

The Empty Tomb: Post-Critical Legal Hermeneutics

by Peter Goodrich
There is nothing more refreshing than a successful failure. A momentary flaring of flamboyance. A near miss. Fifteen weeks as media monarchs; a good part—a small part—of a decade as a political threat to the order of the academy, if not the stability of the system. The affective bonds and the institutional disruption of youthful and latterly not-so-young dissidents and socialist sympathizers within the law schools definitely had their excitements, their impetus and novelties, and then they grew old, got rejected, disappeared into the shadows, backrooms, and faculty lounges. The various histories assign different figures to the failure of critical legal studies (CLS) in the U.S. of A.: it was killed by the lack of a positive program; it went underground and still subsists as interstitial trench warfare; it slept with the enemy, got distracted by the status incentives and glittering prizes of the law professoriat; it was undermined by its own poor scholarship, by the pretention of philosophy; it fragmented into forty different movements; it was undone by a predilection for abstraction and consequent waning of its visceral commitments. I could think of plenty of other post-mortem descriptive vivisections, but that list will do. Add to it as you wish. This Article will focus on the last interpretation, the decline of critique in law due to its tendency to academicism, a propensity to adiaphorism or indifference to doctrine, which is an essentially hermeneutic diagnosis of an affective inability.
10 Nev. L. J. 607 (2010)