Law and uncertainties

All Souls CollegeWalking home from the third and least well attended bloggers’ gathering, through this city of strangers, I found myself thinking about the law. It has been a frequent topic of contemplation for me, of late. The way in which the common law, especially, tries to marry thought with power is fascinating. Precedents, rules of interpretation, and styles of thinking are all part of a complex and self-referential body that nonetheless manages to produce a high degree of coherence and maintain broad respect. People may not have much faith in lawyers, in particular, but there is a high level of faith in the system in its entirety. The contrast with something as amorphous (and oft derided) as ‘international relations’ is welcome.

The major reason I don’t see the law as an appealing personal option is because of the kind of life it seems to promise: one of perpetual brutal competition. Coming to a place like Oxford both produces a conviction that you are reasonably intelligent and a certainty that you cannot take on the world. Even trying is a major effort in self-sacrifice for what is ultimately largely personal gain. The question to grapple with, then, is that of what you want to achieve and what you feel that you must.

Returning to the matter of the law, the appeal lies in how it promises the possibility of satisfying my two main long-term objectives. The first of those is to secure the requirements of a good life, in terms of friendships, skills, material resources, and the like. The second is to effect some positive change upon a deeply troubled and unjust world. Part of the reason why I’ve felt as though I have been thrashing around a bit here is that, while I feel that I am advancing these aims, I feel as though I am doing so in a glancing and indirect manner.

My thanks to Robert, Ben, and Antonia for interesting conversation at The Bear tonight. In particular, meeting Ben was a welcome experience.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

4 thoughts on “Law and uncertainties”

  1. Tony,

    Next time, we really should go somewhere like The Perch, where the full brightness of these summer evenings can be appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *