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5 Eur. L.J. 1 (1999)

handle is hein.journals/eurlj5 and id is 1 raw text is: 

European Law Journal, Vol. 5, No.], March 1999, pp. 1-3
D Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1999, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 IJF, UK
and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA



                                Editorial

                 Michelle Everson and Francis Snyder


As we  enter the last year of the twentieth century, it is a salutory exercise to remind
ourselves that contextuality and inderdisciplinarity in teaching and research on law are
not new. Indeed, it is misleading to conceive of these perspectives on law in such
simple-and   simplistic-terms, whether as a clear innovative break with an entirely
formalist past, or as necessarily a 'socially responsible' and thus an inherently
praiseworthy exercise. In order to grasp and shape the relations between present and
future, we need to have a more accurate understanding  of the past. It is necessary,
therefore, to avoid perpetuating what might risk becoming, by virtue of repetition, an
evolving myth: the myth that where our forbears were content to accept at face value
the argument  that the study, promulgation and  application of law was-from   the
lawyer's point of view-a neutral exercise, today we have seen through the formalist
veil. On the contrary, it is likely to be the case that, in virtually all times and places,
law has never  been merely a simple matter  of problem-solving  through the strict
interpretation of a densely wrought  code of norms  and  principles in the light of
criteria drawn from  a pure-rather   than socially/politically contaminated-legal
world. One has only to recall the teachings of social theorists from Weber to Marx and
their predecessors. Hence it is crucial to avoid, in particular in the era of globalisation,
such an erroneous, and even arrogant, interpretation of past, to the effect that, freed
from their own  narrow legal education and systems, and released into a brave new
dawn,  contemporary  contextual and interdisciplinary scholarship on European law
has begun to understand better and to question critically law's effect upon its cultural
and political environment, and-with  regard to the law's adjudicative function, for
example-the   effects of a cultural and political environment upon the law.
   It is time now, though this editorial is not the place, to begin to re-evaluate and to
re-value the achievements of a 'first' generation of European lawyers. In springing the
confines of the sovereign state, they provided us with the very post-national tableau
upon  which  contemporary   law  teaching, research and  practice might  paint its
contextual aspirations. On closer consideration, their work often embodied no mere
formalism, but an inspired programme,  balanced by a very real consideration of the
axiomatic and complex  issues that marked post-war social and political development
in Europe. We readers who might be tempted to dismiss this early work quickly should
ask ourselves whether  such an attitude is more a mirror of our own  lack of legal
sophistication-or  lazy rejection of the learning of  the mysteries of structured
doctrinal thought and writing than a reflection of our predecessors' naivet6.
   Beyond this, of course, there is also the simple and salutary fact that legal writing,
thought  and  action in Europe  have  long been  marked  by  an awareness  of the
importance  of non-legal  considerations; or, more  precisely, political and social
philosophy. This has been true from the law's cradle in city-based antiquity through to
its natural legal medieval adolescence and culminating in its mature, pandectian and
nation-based  19th  century  modernity.  Furthermore,  the  original, or ur-inter-

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