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A Research On Berman's Legal Ideas

Posted on:2003-09-13Degree:MasterType:Thesis
Country:ChinaCandidate:Y TanFull Text:PDF
GTID:2156360065456519Subject:Foreign philosophy
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Part one:Origin of the Western Law: the Papal RevolutionIn one of his greatest works on legal history which was published in 1983: Law and Revolution: the Formation of the Western Legal Tradition, Berman argues that the traditional way of historical compilation was not reasonable, because it ignored a very important rupture between 1050 and 1150. He maintains that between the year 1050 and 1200, there occurred a crucial change in European life, in which the bishops of Rome asserted a leadership over the Western Church and indeed over Western society as a whole. It is articulated that the evolution of modern Western law began with the Papal Revolution in the llth century. Before that, law, principally the Germanic customary laws, was not distinct from custom and religious and political institutions. There was a legal order but no legal system. It was the Papal Revolution, the first revolution in western history, that divided western Christian world into two parts: the Christian church and the secular community, and consequently gave birth to a new, scientific legal system, encompassing both the canon law system and the secular legal system. The secular legal system, arising in the wake of the development of the canon law, consists of the feudal law, the manorial law, the mercantile law, the urban law, and the royal law. In fact during the Middle Age and indeed up until the 19th century, there was a fundamental unity existed in this Western Legal tradition.Because the Christian church is actually regarded as a modern country, the science of western law, originated from theology, is correspondingly conceived of a kind of secular theology. Religious rituals, ceremonies and doctrines, as the sources of elementary institutions, definitions and values of western legal system, had substantial influences on the founding of the science of western law. Theappearance of universities, the popularization of scholastic method, as well as the studies on Roman Law texts cooperatively fostered the evolution of the science of western law. Berman proposed that in terms of sociology, methodology, and the value, prerequisite of science, the science of law could be looked as the prototype of modern science. Although there haven't any written forms of canon law, its basic principles has restricted the power of the Christian authorities, as well as that of the secular authorities. As a country ruled by law, the Christian church has the nature of a community, which implies that its power is legitimate and restricted. Although supreme governance was given to the Pope, this did not mean that he had unlimited power. The restriction to the power of Church also resulted from the election system of bishops and the specialty and complexity of the official system in the church. In addition, public opinions also lent some contributions to the restrictions to the power of church.It is well know that Harold J. Berman is one of the great figures of the world in legal science. He stands together with giants such as Roscoe Pound, Karl Llewellyn and Lon Fuller in his influence on the development of the intellectual study of the law. Just like Mr.R.H.Helmholz once said, to assess the contributions of Berman to the field of legal history fairly is a challenging task, but never a daunting one. It is also clear that in the field of law and religion, Berman is an inspired and inspiring leader. Inspired by his ideas are not only his students, but also the scholars all over the world who had ever read his book or accessed to his opinions.On one hand it is sure that there remain a lot of inevitable limitations in Berman's idea. He had overemphasized the influence of the Papal Revolution, especially that of Gregory VII's reform. We hold that the relationship between law and religion is not so intimate as he assumed, and that the world hasn't been so dreadful as he conceived. In addition, it is doubtable that only those factors he mentioned in La\v and Revolution are counted as the bases of the formation of the western legal tradition, some oth...
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