by K. Ward
An article on how the study of the philosophy of law makes us better writers.
|I'm a real nerd when it comes to law and jurisprudence. Jurisprudence being the philosophy of law, I find it spectacularly important for practical use. For example, when a philosopher poses a broad question like "what does it mean to be fair?" answers come from many different directions. One person will say, "it is when equal portions are doled out." Another person will say, "it is when everyone receives what they are due, regardless of size." Philosophy starts a debate which is eventually applied to the courtroom and individuals seeking justice.
The study of jurisprudence trains a future lawyer to think creatively. As a novelist, I tend to want to make law creative. I will apply what I learned in the classroom, years ago, to my creative writing and imagine scenarios in which justice is exacted in the most absurdly comedic way.
But I am not a lawyer. I once thought about it. I preferred to use my legalese and natural talent for persuasion for writing. Besides, everyone knows a novel is a lie, but not everyone knows when a lawyer is lying.
They say lawyers neither lie nor tell the truth, but only attempt to persuade the court to side with his party. But they both persuade and also state fact; it's just that they're so manipulative that one never knows which one it is. Do you?
I think that there is such a thing as proof. 100% proof that a defendant either committed or did not commit a guilty act. The court must prove a defendant's guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt in order to convict them, but there is a way to know. Regardless of how far the case goes in the legal system, there is a truth, and everyone is searching for it like the Holy Grail. I believe in the legal system. It might have its flaws, and a case can be appealed again and again. But remember philosophy for a moment. Does one believe that the Lady Justice, the one who holds the scales with impartiality, knows what she is doing? I believe so. She can right an unfair occurrence. She can dole out God's justice, because as we know God is love. I tend to think that whoever pulls the puppet strings is the real winner, and Lady Justice is at the top of the Supreme Court, pulling the puppet strings so that we can all get what we need. There is a God in control.
So, the next time something unfair happens to you, remember that Lady Justice is advocating for you. You are not only paid back but paid back more than what you lost, to make amends. A good novel ends with justice-- not just a resolution to a crisis, but a resolution to a crisis within your heart. I do not always write about legal topics, but I consider them to be an excellent guide to writing literature. It is just one facet of the art of storytelling. One might also study philosophy, psychology, literature, and creative writing to learn how to write well, but I'd like to think that every teacher I've ever known was right when they said it starts with a dream, and it ends with a problem being solved and an idyllic scenario. Philosophically, you do not even need to be formally educated to be a novelist, but I guess what I mean to say is that jurisprudence helps us to think like a parent who referees, rewards, punishes, and loves his children. Writers love their characters. We are God's characters, and he is writing our stories right now. What do you think he'll have us do now?
The law is what we must abide by lest we get in trouble. Husband and wife are forced to remain together by law, lest they get in a heap of trouble. But why would the law keep you together? Wouldn't it be that love keeps you together? Wouldn't it be that your relationship is protected by the laws, rather than a discipline to stay a couple? But what if there were no law? That would be best, and the reason why I say that is because if there is no need for law, there is no crime. We would all willingly love one another without a law being in place. Jesus said there is no marriage in heaven. And there's not, and the reason why is because marriage is a legally binding contract to stay together until death (it is a temporary agreement). It's not an endless puzzle. There is such a thing as true love, but what we know of as marriage on earth is not marriage in Heaven. It has a different definition. Let's just say that it never ends. But human beings make mistakes, and the law is in place during life so that the unjust can stay separate from the just. Honestly, would you like to stay together with your husband or your wife forever? Many say no, and one lonely person in the audience says yes. The poor guy is hopelessly in love with his wife, and yet they're still miserable because life is challenging. But at least there's an end to the law. I didn't say right this moment. I said there's end to law when there is no longer any need.