Postmodern justice

Peter Goodrich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Justice and the postmodern share the paradoxical quality of being unsusceptible to easy definition. Justice has the edge in terms of length of history and diffusion of uses and is second only to time as an intractably venerable object of conceptual elaboration. It is indeed often defined by reference to what it is not, its lack, the instance of injustice but then an ambiguous prefix has already complicated the plurality of definitions beyond any easy etymological or legislative redemption. The postmodern shares the problem of the prefix if not that of the stature and duration of the aporia of meaning. The postmodern bears an amusingly ludic if not virtually unintelligible prefix. That is to say, on the one hand, that the prefix is post, the before is after, and on the other hand, and with equal obscurity the post here precedes the modern. As the modern is by most definitions that which is contemporary, here, now, and new, it is hard to make sense of a prefix that suggests a novelty that exceeds the modern. The quarrel between the ancients and the moderns, between the pre and the post, is thus here complicated not only through the contemporary context of culture wars but also by dint of the notion of an antiquity that comes after the modern. To this it has to be added that the postmodern is used to qualify an already chimerical justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLaw and the Humanities
Subtitle of host publicationAn Introduction
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780511657535
ISBN (Print)9780521899055
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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