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Ghost ship Constitution

Ghost ship Constitution

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Published by Chad Whitehead
Scholarly article that is very well written and researched. It brings in many famous intellectuals.
Scholarly article that is very well written and researched. It brings in many famous intellectuals.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Chad Whitehead on Jan 14, 2013
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01/15/2013

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125
THE GHOST SHIP CONSTITUTION
Falsehood, says Aristotle, comes in two varieties:what does not exist at all, and those actual existences which appear as non-existent. It is in this second sense that Larry ribe plumbs the truth o an “in-visible” Constitution while Robert Bork decries the cultural and moral alsity o the Constitution we see. Tese perceptions o invisible truth and appar-ent alsehood do not so much reect the Constitutionitsel as the constitutional judgments o a Supreme Court. Here Aristotle’s rst iteration o alsehood suraces or, as Alexander Bickel plainly states “the authority to determine the meaning and applica-tion o a written constitution is nowhere dened or even mentioned in the document itsel.” I this non-existent judicial review is a allacy who can truly say what the Constitution is? How are we to know it as it is? and to recognize ourselves there? Te Framers,ex ante, could do little more than position them-selves beore a picture o justice as the end o govern-ment already imagined at the beginning, and thenset o in hot pursuit through the looking glass o lib-erty; but they had no illusions about the process or the result. Citing David Hume they maintain that chance not “reason” will be determinative; that the true Constitution is not yet at hand but will rather,in the ullness o “time,” emerge rom “mistakes,”  ailed “trials,” and the “FEELING o inconve-niences.” Te Constitution they thus “behold” – inextending the sphere o action and counteracting ambition with ambition – is negation itsel: “the republican remedy or the diseases most incident to republican government.” Tis essay, ex post, as- pires only to restate the Framers’ inversion in the idiom o philosophy as Aristotle introduces it whenhe observes that “we say even o non-being that it is non-being.” Le aux, selon Aristote, est de deux sortes : ce qui n’existe pas du tout et ce qui existe mais n’est pas observable. C’est grâce à ce second sens que Larry ribe sonde la vérité d’une Constitution américaine dite « invisible » tandis que Robert Bork décrie la  ausseté culturelle et morale de la Constitutionactuelle. Ces images de la vérité invisible et de la  ausseté apparente reètent moins la Constitutionmême que les décisions constitutionnelles d’une cour suprême. Nous observons ici la première itération de  ausseté d’Aristote car, comme l’afrme clairemen Alexander Bickel, « l’autorité pour déterminer le sens et l’application d’une constitution écrite n’est pas dénie, ni même mentionnée dans le document». Si ce contrôle judiciaire inexistant est donc une erreur aristotélicienne, qui peut véritablement afrmer ce qu’est la Constitution? Comment aire pour bienla comprendre? Pour s’y reconnaître? Les artisans de la Constitution américaine ne pouvaient que se  placer devant un tableau de la justice représentant la n de leur gouvernement déjà imaginé au début  puis se lancer dans une course erénée pour réussir la traversée du miroir nommé liberté. Cependant,ils n’avaient point d’illusions quant au processus et au résultat. Ils citent David Hume et soutiennent que ce n’est pas la « raison » mais la chance qui est déterminante; que la vraie Constitution n’est pas là mais plutôt, qu’avec le temps, elle apparaîtra  grâce aux « erreurs », aux « ratés » et à « limpres-à « l’impres-« l’impres-sion de désagrément ». La Constitution qu’ils ont devant eux – en élargissant la action pour que les ambitions s’annulent – est donc une négation pur et simple qu’ils reconnaissent comme tel : « Le re-mède républicain pour les maladies républicaine ». Moi, je n’aspire qu’à réafrmer cette inversion dans la langue philosophique telle qu’Aristote l’enseigna lorsqu’il constata « qu’on dit même du non-être qu’il 
est 
non-être ».
Michael Halley*
* Michael Halley holds a doctorate rom the University o Caliornia at Berkeley and a J.D. romHarvard Law School.
 
Volume 14, Issue 2, 2009 
126
Te Ghost Ship Constitution
I. INTRODUCTION
Tis essay about the American Constitution as being 
 
— and as a being — endeavours to steer a course clear o the Kantian
a priori 
(the singularly in-tractable rame o being that precedes and strictly delimits all manner o sub-sequent beings) and around Heidegger’s
Dasein
(the more organic, atemporalrame o 
being-there 
existentially concerned to sustain any lie orm). Tesenow all-too-amiliar ideations do little but rehearse on the stage o philosophthe irresolvable and intemperate legal debate raging between those who insistthat the portrait o being — ramed at America’s inception — is the only trueconstitutional likeness, and those who claim this to be a alse perception thatleaves today’s Americans with a dusty and antiquated picture, which we nolonger want because it no longer represents what is. I there is a way throughor around the impasse,
America’s constitutional Framers — ollowing theSocratic prescription or nding the republic in the man and the man in therepublic — point the way in evoking government in general, and theirs inparticular, as the “greatest o all reections o human nature.”
 
Everyone seriously practicing constitutional law in America today must, it would seem, ascribe tothe practice o grounding the actual rights or duties he seeks to vindicate or enorce on behal o a party on precedents contained in the constitutional text. Constitutional theorists, relieved o thereal time burden o so proving their claims by matching the actual they seek to establish with whatis constitutionally possible are no less constrained to remain within the constitutional
a priori 
. Teconstitutional
res 
“already antecedently lies at the ground” and is encountered, earlier in time, be-ore any determination about
being ree 
or
being equal 
today or in the uture can be hazarded. I the jurists and scholars can see what constitutional being is at present it is only because, even Heideggerconcedes, ollowing Socrates, it is precedent, which is to say “something already previously seen.”See Martin Heidegger,
Te Basic Problems o Phenomenology 
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, ) at , , and  [Heidegger].
Te Federalist Papers 
, No. . All citations to
Te Federalist Papers 
are accessible at the AvalonProject, online: Yale Law School <avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/ed.asp> [
Federalist 
No. ].I am indebted to my editor Greg Clarke or suggesting a more exacting iteration, one that explains- in keeping with the basic tenets o phenomenology — how the ghost ship Constitution can stillbe in active service while its “real world” counterpart is a relic, a museum piece in dry-dock at theBoston Navy Yard, where America’s citizens come not so much to pay their respects to the past asto imagine themselves present at the Republic’s origin. Te Constitution, as distinguished rom thesailing ship that bares its name and once deended it, is the likeness o being unto beings. As such, itcharts its own course rom the many to the one (
e pluribus unum
), and back again. Tis essay can dono more than mark some o the more salient points o call in this round-trip passage. Dr. Clarke’surther perception and constructive criticism that I have “anthropomorphized the Constitution”underscores the act that people simply do not believe in ghosts any more, and anticipates the ob- jections readers are sure to raise on that score. Unortunately phenomenology — the recognitiono presence as the living reality o a ghost inhabiting the dead shell o a past that is orever goneand the empty promise o a uture orever coming to be — is inevitably and invariably conated with anthropology: the disbelie in ghosts and concomitant insistence that the haunting presenceo being is o human kind, novel perhaps, but no more oreign than the “new” orms o humanity anthropologists claim still to be meeting (and marveling over) in such ar way and inaccessible
 
Review of Constitutional Studies/Revue d’études constitutionnelles 
127
 Michael Halley 
Tis preliminary remark about that reection would be superuous butor the raming with which it cannot but have to contend, a raming that hasthoroughly conounded the scholarly lawyers and locked down the state o  American constitutional law in a sterile epistemological debate about the rameand its determinative consequences or what it contains. Te Constitution asan ordination
o sel-governance — the synchronically reected likeness o my being unto an assembly o representative beings — is not compatible withthis kind o diachronic treatment o orm and substance. While the perceivednecessity to distinguish identity rom itsel is as old as Socrates asserting that“the orm [o a bed] is our term or the being o a bed,”
the Framers madeone thing, not two, and all at the same time. Tere is no visible or otherwisediscernable dierence between the rame and the Constitution. I what they made was one whole constitution, why do they reer to themselves, and weto them, not as creators but as Framers, and to it as the merest rame even as
climes as the rain orests o South America. Te incapacity to appreciate
ontology 
other than as an
anthropology 
should not, however, be laid solely at the eet o the social sciences and the empiricalmethodologies they embrace alone. Te French poet Arthur Rimbaud’s protest: “
C’est aut de dire  je pense. On devrait dire: On me pense 
,” in similarly inrm, or the “
on
” and the “
 je 
” both remainin the register o what is human, no matter how insistently the poet would wish to separate them.Rimbaud’s conclusion that “
 je est un autr
” is no conclusion at all but the redacted version o an-thropology’s trap:
 je est un autre je 
. See Arthur Rimbaud, “Lettre à Georges Izambar  May in
Oeuvres 
(Paris: Edition Garnier Freres, ) at . When Andre Breton comes a century laterto revisit Rimbaud’s declarations and to ask “
Qui suis-je ?,
” his answer, “
tout ne reviendrait-it pas a savoir qui je hante 
,” does nothing so much as conrm that the passage o time can do nothing toloosen anthropology’s strangle-hold on being. Te haunting 
and the haunted
him
linger in
 perso-nam
and endure unscathed as the subject and the object o anthropology. See André Breton,
Nadja 
 (Paris: Editions Gallimard, ) at . I, ollowing Martin Heidegger, “[a]nthropology means thescience o man… and embraces all that is knowable relative to the nature o man,” then Heideggeris surely correct to blame the conation o anthropology and ontology on Immanuel Kant’s “hasty”determination to reduce the problems o metaphysics to the single inquiry “what is man.” MartinHeidegger,
Kant and the Problem o Metaphysics 
, th ed. (Bloomington, Indiana University Press,) at  and  [
Problem o Metaphysics 
]. I this is the question, the answer, man is man, likerecognized by like, belongs exclusively to anthropology. Tis species-specic line o inquiry, how-ever interesting in the particular, leads nowhere at all. Successul perhaps in delimiting, over time,the being o man, it orecloses,
ab initio
, any investigation “concerning beings in general,” (
ibid 
. at) and more to the point or us does not acknowledge, and cannot ever hope to account or, thecore o the constitutional premise and consequence: that there can be and that there is, in America at least, such a thing as the being o beings, irrespective o man. Is Socrates’ reminiscence o thetime when “to listen to an oak or to a stone” was enough “so long as it was telling the truth,” any dierent rom the Israelites’ deerence to rock slabs? I, as he insists “the rst prophecies were the words o an oak,” do not ours — words on parchment paper — simply ollow suit? Plato,
Phaedrus 
 in John Cooper, ed.,
Plato: Complete Works 
(Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, )at  [Cooper]. Such is the extant precedent, and i the rule o law is our creed we are obliged toollow it, however improbable or implausible it may appear to the reason o man which is to say thedomain and the limit o anthropology.United States Constitution, preamble [U.S. Const.]. Plato,
Te Republic 
in Cooper,
supra 
note  at .

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