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The Tragic End of Wigs

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13 Responses

  1. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    I wholeheartedly concur. I especially like the phrase, “tactile reminders of their special role.”

    Placed alongside some of the needless proposed changes in the House of Lords, I’m beginning to think the English have lost all sense of direction, sophrosyne, and cultural self-confidence.

  2. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    I wholeheartedly concur. I especially like the phrase, “tactile reminders of their special role.”

    Placed alongside some of the needless proposed changes in the House of Lords, I’m beginning to think the English have lost all sense of direction, sophrosyne, and cultural self-confidence.

  3. Mike O'Shea says:

    Nate’s point is straight Burke (“the decent drapery of life”), and in this instance I agree.

    It’s like U.S. lawyers going from navy suits to polo shirts in the office. Once you abandon a tradition, it’s hard to get it back.

    As for contemporary Britain in general, don’t get me started.

  4. Mike O'Shea says:

    Nate’s point is straight Burke (“the decent drapery of life”), and in this instance I agree.

    It’s like U.S. lawyers going from navy suits to polo shirts in the office. Once you abandon a tradition, it’s hard to get it back.

    As for contemporary Britain in general, don’t get me started.

  5. guest says:

    C’mon Nate: We all know the profession already jumped the shark with the abandonment of Law French.

  6. Dave says:

    I have a special role! I have a special role!

  7. Nate Oman says:

    “We all know the profession already jumped the shark with the abandonment of Law French.”

    Indeed…

  8. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    Instead of Edmund Burke who, after all, often mystifies tradition (tradition for tradition’s sake; i.e., I don’t think Burke really helps us appreciate why tradition(s) are of value, or what persuasive reasons might be enlisted on behalf of, say, ritual), I suggest we look at the Confucian (and neo-Confucian) conception of li (holy ritual, social norms, rituals of propriety, social ‘grammar,’ conventions, etiquette, etc.) by way of understanding what may be at stake here, in other words, for a provocative theory of “ritual” in a rather expansive sense. See, for instance:

    Ames, Roger T. and Henry Rosemont, Jr., trans. (with intro.). (1998) The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. New York: Ballantine Books.

    Chong, Kim-chong. (2007) Early Confucian Ethics. Chicago, IL: Open Court.

    Fingarette, Herbert. (1972) Confucius: The Secular as Sacred. New York: Harper Torchbooks.

    Goldin, Paul Rakita. (1999) Rituals of the Way: The Philosophy of Xunzi. Chicago, IL: Open Court.

    Hall, David L. and Roger T. Ames. (1987) Thinking Through Confucius. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

    Liu, JeeLoo. (2006) An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy: From Ancient Philosophy to Chinese Buddhism. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    Nylan, Michael. (2001) The Five “Confucian” Classics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    Shun, Kwong-loi and David B. Wong, eds. (2004) Confucian Ethics: A Comparative Study of Self, Autonomy, and Community. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Slingerland, Edward, trans. (2003) Confucius: Analects (with selections from traditional commentaries). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publ.

    Van Norden, Bryan W., ed. (2002) Confucius and the Analects: New Essays. New York: Oxford University Press.

  9. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    Instead of Edmund Burke who, after all, often mystifies tradition (tradition for tradition’s sake; i.e., I don’t think Burke really helps us appreciate why tradition(s) are of value, or what persuasive reasons might be enlisted on behalf of, say, ritual), I suggest we look at the Confucian (and neo-Confucian) conception of li (holy ritual, social norms, rituals of propriety, social ‘grammar,’ conventions, etiquette, etc.) by way of understanding what may be at stake here, in other words, for a provocative theory of “ritual” in a rather expansive sense. See, for instance:

    Ames, Roger T. and Henry Rosemont, Jr., trans. (with intro.). (1998) The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. New York: Ballantine Books.

    Chong, Kim-chong. (2007) Early Confucian Ethics. Chicago, IL: Open Court.

    Fingarette, Herbert. (1972) Confucius: The Secular as Sacred. New York: Harper Torchbooks.

    Goldin, Paul Rakita. (1999) Rituals of the Way: The Philosophy of Xunzi. Chicago, IL: Open Court.

    Hall, David L. and Roger T. Ames. (1987) Thinking Through Confucius. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

    Liu, JeeLoo. (2006) An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy: From Ancient Philosophy to Chinese Buddhism. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    Nylan, Michael. (2001) The Five “Confucian” Classics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    Shun, Kwong-loi and David B. Wong, eds. (2004) Confucian Ethics: A Comparative Study of Self, Autonomy, and Community. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Slingerland, Edward, trans. (2003) Confucius: Analects (with selections from traditional commentaries). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publ.

    Van Norden, Bryan W., ed. (2002) Confucius and the Analects: New Essays. New York: Oxford University Press.

  10. Frank says:

    I approve the wigs for Benthamite reasons–much cheaper to throw those on than invest in nice haircuts/”product”.

    Moreover, gowns are great for hiding a cheap suit.

    Anything to stop positional competition for appearance is all to the good! see

    http://www.chas.uchicago.edu/documents/MD0607/Are%

    20Positional%20Externalities%20Different.pdf

  11. Frank says:

    PS: for those piqued by references to “law french,” check out this intro to Ian Shapiro’s “Flight from Reality in the Human Sciences”:

    http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i8083.pdf

  12. LM says:

    Oh dear. Really? I was hoping that this post was written in jest, but…

    Regarding the demystification of the law: Is this really such an awful phenomenon? Drawing a parallel between law and religion (humor me), was the Protestant Reformation such a terrible thing for religion? (Wars and religious sectarianism aside.) Perhaps this is taking an unsophisticated view, but I would argue that the law should be more, not less, accessible.

    Moving on…

    Regarding the relationship between ceremonial garb and judicial performance: If American judges were made to don a wig and a (more) formal robe, would that make them any less likely to fall asleep in court? Relatedly, did Rehnquist’s chevron stripes cause him to bear his role with greater solemnity? (His stripes were inspired by a costume worn in a comic opera about fairies; key word: “comic”. Hardly a deferential gesture to the solemnity of one’s role as the CJ of the Supreme Court, wouldn’t you agree?)

    Those seeking to identify remnants of tradition in the U.S. legal system might take solace in the fact that the Solicitor General is still expected to play dress-up before the Supreme Court. Well, then, at least one person can be expected to take his job seriously.

  13. Anthony Hughes says:

    I must say, it is a great shame to see tradition fly out the window. The massive chatter concerning moderninty and 21st Century prgress is all tosh to me. British court dress is not just a wig and gown, it remains a symbol of national identity. That stands in Ireland as well (that is where I’m from); barristers and judges all keep with tradition. I am not a blatent conservative by any means, but it is a matter of principle that full dress is retained. I have noticed over the years that Labour governments in the UK become so quickly enraptured in modernity and seemingly petty Americanisation; this is just another example. It is the little things that we tend to forget, and suddenly Labour abolishes or modifies them one way or another. At the end of the day, common law in Britiain will be seen as part of an ever-growing meritocratic society and judges are now to be the old men sitting atop the bench, there to extend a warm hand to the accused, all with a smile and understanding nanny-like manner. Perhaps, soon, all this nonsense will return to normal.