Photo: Prof.Univ.Dr.Ioan Chelaru
Motto: Nescio quom, sed scio multos in hoc saeculo artes et scientias elaborasse ac semina novae culturae seminasse, quae subito florebunt, inopinato modo, cum virtutem vitiose partam putat. (Giordano Bruno)…I don’t know when, but I do know that many in this century have developed the arts and sciences and sown the seeds of a new culture that will blossom, unexpectedly, suddenly, just when power mistakenly thinks it has won.
It often happens to me, like you, I think, to be dissatisfied with my own conclusions on issues that usually give us headaches or simply invade, more or less justified, the space of public debate. This is what happened to me with this dilematic problem of Artificial Intelligence in the legal world, in the system and in concept analytics. I am fully aware that we cannot bypass or reject the applicability of this new form of manifestation of human inventiveness.
In my own mind, and fighting only with myself like a passion-haunted insomniac, I thought that Law itself, the system, argumentative legal logic were in danger of being trapped in the algorithm, and then the freedom of the human spirit would be suppressed. And so it is. How many times in history has man made the error of caring so much about the safety of his creation that he protected it by limiting his own freedom and independence? For example, the Constitutio edict Caracalla’s Antoniana of 212 granting citizenship to all free men in the empire, implicitly access to Roman justice, was not a humanitarian act as the emperor trumpeted it, but the beginning of the imperial end. But the need from which this edict arose was the need to protect the empire through soldiers recruited from among the citizens. Behold. Repeated histories, over and over again. Through the algorithms of Artificial Intelligence, will we protect fundamental human rights, civil rights? Can anyone say this with his hand on his heart and under oath?
If we look under the ideological magnifying glass at Western democracies, we see this paradox of assuming unfreedom for the guarantee of dubious security. The same happens in our world, in the world of law. Perhaps Artificial Intelligence will succeed in technically removing human error, procedural weakness, schisms of opinion, but the price will clearly be the transformation of the litigant, that is, ours, into abstract identities. We will probably go through the paradox of artificial justice from which emotion, empathy, mercy and love for man will have been abolished. Human freedom contains in the essence of its definition the possibility of error. Artificial justice can never become justice.
These were my concerns, and so my brain was burned by dire conclusions about the fate of law, which, lo and behold, finds itself removed from its exceptional legitimate grammar and rewritten on the basis of vague, impertinent ideologies. Suddenly, I realize that in my thoughts I am arguing to someone, that I have an interlocutor, that I am addressing a friend to whom I confess and before whom I deplore a state. It is, I think, the defect of our profession, which always asks for our advocacy and I have sometimes come to unfold my ideas and feelings in front of an analytical interlocutor. It really is, when I set my intentions and systematize them on a domain and I want to write, I am addressing someone, I am speaking to an imaginary friend.
This time, my thoughts went to one of my former interns, who once took a vase from me, proving that the fleeting beauty of a flower, which is a category implicitly linked to time and duration, has undeniably greater value than burnt clay, however precious it may be. In the same second, I called the person by phone and initiated a meeting and dialogue that brought me out of the inept ideational depression and which makes the content of the following assertions, which will see the light of print under the title: “The wall… legal culture (Part V)’.
First of all, I clarified that Artificial Intelligence is not our only current challenge, it is important especially for the destiny of our professions, because we would be required not only a good knowledge of substantive law and judicial practice, but also IT skills and, especially, knowledge about what we are looking for. It may be that the plea becomes formal, which it has largely become, that the prosecutors’ argument in criminal law is just the conclusion offered by algorithms after a well-directed analysis of a priori of data provided to servers. We do not know how it will be, but we can instead be offered, as a possible benefit, a method of synthesis of European legal practice, for example, at the end of which we rediscover the theses about law itself, in what it represents as universal. This possibility would be a big gain for the substantive right of synthesis.
“You know, Maître – I quote exactly – legal reason has always encountered the syncopes of aporia, dilemmas, absurdity, and has flirted with all variants of sophistry, in order to achieve its goal of persuasion, in the name of what we call justice and the social fact of justice. Now we are going through an era of absurd language exulted by certain categories of fanatics of futile theories such as the illumination of fireflies, but this artificial intelligence that gives insomnia may be precisely the means to proceed to the retroversion of strictly legal language.
And retroversion is the method by which you confirm the validity of a text translation by translating the translation back into the original language. After this dilution of meaning through factual interpretations and reinterpretations of the language of the original legal reason, we will find in the synthesis what seemed to be abandoned. We will draw from this madness exactly the essence of legal theses and principles. But all of this is possible if we keep our heads on our shoulders and know what to look for.” End of quote. And I breathed a sigh of relief at the idea that this Artificial Intelligence could be, through its algorithms, precisely that basis accessible at any time, through which we can find the original essences of our language.
We agreed, in order to get out of the closed angle of ideational depression in which I often feel, to focus on the peripatetic method, to keep ourselves within the established meter of logic and to maintain as basic the theory of the precedence of law and not of reality in what is called the law-making space. If law creates reality, then this conceptual colonization with notions alien to established logic leads to what? In which direction? Towards what horizon? For it is not law that is fooled in these new trends, but only the man who claims to enshrine vague theories and illogical models of life legally.
If man no longer accepts gender difference, in family law, for example, or the state easily denies its constitutional authority, is it good for them? All the worse for this world of ours, because it will reach the impasse that reality always creates when the need arises to justify power relations. No authority, no rigor, no hierarchy will be recognized. They will necessarily be recreated. We live in a fashion that is alien to law and will undoubtedly pass. The exaltation of the freedoms of an age lured by the illusion of concupiscent beatitudes are but saturnals of the vanity of bored or horizonless man. He needs stronger and stronger stimuli to satisfy his need for meaning.
This corruption of the world is obviously leading to a crisis of legislation, which becomes uncertain, difficult, slippery. The crisis is not of law itself, because we could suddenly wake up with another reason, if the right were altered, and law is the very reason for the life of the social man in this world. If, for example, we could think of a legal world in which we separate man from his name and succession vocation given by birth, blood and name, then we would live a reconversion of our being, we would start over a brand-new existence according to another existential paradigm that resembles nothing we knew about ourselves.
It would be as if architects could get a stable construction without foundation. Hundreds of worlds can, of course, be imagined differently from the one we walk on as humans, but as long as we are rational beings who have some fundamental needs to provide, the right itself will not be affected, for it is the maximum reason that guarantees that satisfying the need for life, name, food, perpetuation, society and protection is possible for this sinful creature, hungry, thirsty for power and conquest, who is MAN.
“I see you worried, Maître, and it’s not the first time. I know that in this age it is precisely your areas of predilection, family law and private international law, that are most touched by the winds of random change, more touched even than the constitutional law of nations, and more important, because they represent an affront to human safety in the world. The family crisis is far worse even than the energy crisis. My intuition tells me that very soon these trends will, by themselves, be struck by obsolete. After they have exhausted all their outlets, the apostles of marriages of all kinds will pass as common, few, insignificant, motherhood will prevail, filiation will claim its point at the center of civil legal life and thought, the name will feel the need for renown, institutions will be restored.
I couldn’t wait to hear a voice after some time exulting hope and trust. My trainee laughs with childlike serenity, deeply amused by my concern for the tomorrows of legal concepts, but more amused by the famous clashes into which sober men of history have unwittingly entered. We are talking about Alexander of Macedon and Diogenes the Cynic, about Plato’s Academy, about Caracalla and his edict by which he decreed citizens all free people in the empire, and about the little-known fact that this “emperor” wanted to be like Macedon.
Stories and small stories that delight informed people and tell as much about man as the great debates about the heliocentric nature of the universe, for example. I know he has a passion for historical research and maybe that’s why we understand each other easily, we speak the same language, and that’s why opinions that don’t coincide don’t lead to irritation, to snarl, to quarrel. It wasn’t until I slipped into the subject of school quality that I saw the shadow of desolation in her gaze. It was my turn to lift the spirits of this dear friend, who is sorry that her son will not catch the time to go to school as we did, when it was a great success to get to the University and a great honor to be at least touched with the appreciative gaze of an old professor.
I return to dialogue: “I still carry in my heart the criminal law courses of Professor Zolineak and Professor Loghin, may God rest them in the Heaven of the scribes! I learned successions after Sanilevici Manoliu, Roman law and private international law after Jakota, they were names, big names that transferred to pages and amphitheaters an energy of living law. There was pure seduction in their lectures, they were human role models.
My heart rose to the “foot of heaven” when Professor Jakota agreed to graduate in Roman law, and after long hours of case research, I was tempted if I knew French, if I had read his good friend Fustel de Coulange, if I knew a hint of Latin… and let us not forget, Maître, that you are a member of the Academy of Legal Sciences, even president, now, of honor, and I do not think you do not realize that there you have the hen with the golden chicks, you are a living treasure and you must attend High School. You, the elect, have no excuse even if this world goes downhill altogether…”
It was a cold shower for me to receive in my cheek the serious, but also real accusation that school is no longer being made. In the sense of this friend, an understanding that has also become mine, only those who are called to school, only those who remain attached and permeated by the deep meaning of the science they choose to practice or do research in a field, who love knowledge. The rest graduate and lead their lives somewhere, according to their comprehension and luck. She believes that the Academy of Legal Sciences is the place where those touched by this love for science gather and who have the obligation, each of them, to pass on the passion for classical study, for the established approach of legal science, she believes that we have the duty to raise our descendants from among those uninspired and untouched by the passion of gratitude and public recognition. She knows that true success involves priestly renunciation of the many common joys and frivolities of life, that it requires suffering and dedication, time. But we know that, too.
It brings me to the point where I begin to wonder if he is really wrong, at least in part, and that one of our institutional purposes should be, in fact, the serious and solid attempt to rebuild the Law School, a revival of the curriculum by inserting into the curriculum the studies of Latin, the history of legal institutions. Thomistic canon law from which to learn syllogism or logic. Then I, too, believe that we would not be far from the effort made by some European schools trying to reintroduce the study of classical languages into school curricula. We have plenty of information, too much even too unsifted by a lucid and informed sieve. But access to information is not formative.
The knowledge of classical languages is formative, or the knowledge of the subtle way of transforming some institutions of public or private law into what they became until or after the Napoleon Code, disciplines the mind, matures it beautifully, enhances the function of the human brain through the complexity and harmony of associations and, above all, opens that intuitive aperceptive territory for abstraction and concept. If we look very closely, in the fundamental concept of our universities, we find with regret that no attention is paid to the studies of legal philosophy and conceptual development until what we call today established doctrine. These topics are easily exhausted in the course of Introduction to the Study of Law and I do not know that yet, from the interwar period until today, this concern has been taken seriously with good seriousness. The field has no practical applicability and access to public functions motivates most of our students and graduates, but the formation of analytical refinement and critical spirit is done in the courtyard of conceptual and ideational study.
Today, lo and behold, information is a click away, and yet the world is filled with functional illiterates, which means that subjects do not know what to do with a notion, words do not have a living representation in the heads of these “smart”. In the millennium of free access to information we have another dark Middle Ages, in fact, in which we literally cultivate ignorance about useful knowledge. We know, but we don’t know, we don’t know we don’t know, what we know we don’t know if it’s valid, and so on.
Hence I come to the conclusion of my distinguished colleague in law who accompanied me in the anxieties of concern: knowledge belongs to the very few since the world is in the world and it is only for the elect. And right, which was originally a priestly attribute, will return to being accessible only to a few who devotedly stoop to it. The place of those chosen is, in her opinion, precisely the ACADEMY, and not because we are a publicly recognized establishment, with its own headquarters and seal, but because the Academy was the true school of Plato and cultivated beauty in all its forms, friendship, knowledge useful and pleasant to the city, goodwill among people, excellence in all fields of knowledge and measure in public affairs.
Renowned professors in fact or not, those elected to the Academy of Legal Sciences, and not only them, are the ones who can attend school in the light of another horizon than the strictly curricular one. They have, or should have, the cut of authenticity, sobriety and universal allure of the human role model to follow. In any crisis, the human model is a savior, even if this shaping caliber moves in the modesty of a room or in the breadth of an amphitheater or a court of justice or parliament.
I now admit with pleasure that, born of the accidental need for pleasant human companionship, this dialogue has left in my mind the biggest problem that we, ASJR members, have in front of me: all the challenges of today’s world are solved through the complete and sober act of education, through the School and through the beloved and admired human model. And this is done in the established way of the classics, that is, thinning the mind and memory, physical education, moral and aesthetic education, then preparing for the social utility of the individual through specialization according to the predisposition of man. We would therefore be the guardians of honour of a science and methods as old as the world, we – the priests of the consecrated letter and the magisters of the high, revealed meaning of Law. Are we this, I ask? Or do we at least aim to be?
The fear is related to today’s world and comes from the conclusion of the recent history of all modern political systems that are no longer supported by force of arms and armies, but by the serpent power of manipulation, and which set out to change man by imposing another false ideologized god: the new man in the light of technology and artificial intelligence, Fully served and totally subservient. And for us, lawyers, who agree that human freedom is conditioned by the quality and probity of laws, the cloud of another paradox rises on the horizon: under the appearance of legal liberalities for the benefit and equal ease of life of all, we will be enslaved and we will renounce the specific differences that distinguish us: gender, name, distinctions, wealth, renown, prestige and knowledge.
The greatest challenge, then, and that we have before us, is whether we agree to all this fantasy: man as a new species? Or, in the light of good knowledge of the universal history of the world, we will preserve the sacred fire of human individuality and its law that we will cultivate in what is distinct and unique, and we retain hope like Giordano Bruno in the text chosen as his motto, Subito florebunt or, in translation, hope and a new culture will flourish even when those who wish for the destruction of our world will mistakenly believe that they have won.
Addenda, after walking through the gardens of Akademos: I look at my former trainee walking away and in the eyes of my memory she still carries on her arms, proud and cheerful, her vase of roses, her trophy of youth and fond memory from the history of the Law Firm. I wonder what books she would have touched in her studious youth if she dared, so cruelly, to demonstrate on the thesis of real movable access that eternal beauty reveals itself in contemplative duration, and this makes the flower infinitely more valuable than the vase? Can I, or we, or you make the University once again the temple where the children of this nation can enter? I ask you and with this I propose to bring into our debate, which I would like to perpetuate, the quality and content of the Romanian law school, as a topic of reflection for future chapters of… Wall… LEGAL CULTURE.