Conventional wisdom holds that the principal task of a law school is to teach law students to "think like lawyers." However, law school can be experienced as a form of narrow training that diminishes something central to the human person: the fundamental drive to question and to follow those questions wherever they lead. This Article will explore the ways in which the thought of two scholars, Bernard Lonergan and James Boyd White, can usefully inform our understanding of this crisis of meaning and value within the context of a conception of law as a social and cultural activity. First, this Article describes the distortions in legal education caused by the narrowing of mind and perspective that coincides with an understanding of the role of the lawyer as a technician manipulating the rules. Then this Article outlines Lonergan's understanding of the constitutive function of acts of meaning and White's analogous understanding of law as a meaning-making activity that is constitutive of character and community. Next, this Article argues that the law can be understood as a form of what Lonergan calls practical common sense. As a form of common sense knowing, the law is subject to the problems associated with general bias. Accordingly, the Article explores the manner in which the problem of general bias in the law might be addressed within an understanding of the law – and especially the law school – as a culture of argument and authentic conversation that promotes heightened fidelity to the unrestricted desire to know. Finally, this Article suggests that the commitments and traditions of the Society of Jesus give a law school which operates within the context of a Jesuit university unique motivations and opportunities to establish an environment that truly is a culture of authentic conversation that promotes openness to the central demand of authentic conversation: the demand to give oneself wholly to the unrestricted desire to know by letting one’s questions take over and by following those questions wherever they lead.
Law and Society
Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility
Legal Writing and Research
- Journal title
Loyola University Chicago Law Journal
- Date submitted
8 September 2022