Ontology and law
In parallel to the ontic apprehension of “law” there is the ontological apprehension. That is because law is a way of human life and, as per Heidegger, the ontic characteristic of human beings is that of being ontological. In other words, a human being can see himself outwardly as well as inwardly, using for the former his senses and for the latter his intellectual or emotional intuition.
In that vein, the ontic is the basis for the empirical and the ontological is the basis for the axiological. Therein, to assess ontologically law is to evaluate juridical values. Ontically, law includes references to positive and negative values; ontologically, law is these positive and negative values.
Following the previous paragraphs, to refer to positive and negtaive values in an object (e.g. law) is to refer to its characteristics such as we do with the others apprehended by our senses (e.g. its color, its shape). There is a difference, though: the characteristics that are apprehended by our senses can be located in time and space while those referred to positive and negative values cannot. For example, when we refer to a marble sculpture we may refer to its “whiteness” as well as its “beauty.” However, depending on time and space, someone may acknowledge different tones of “whiteness” and, even, other colors altogether. Differently, “beauty” is acknowledged as a characteristic of the marble statue as a whole piece independent of time and space.
To be more precise, ontologically, it is important for law to distinguish the values of the object itself and those “recognized” by human beings. Law as a cultural object refers to both the conduct “being” and its outcome. While an individual may ontically refer to his conduct and its outcome as one object, ontologically, law assesses each step. For example, while an individual may scribble lines on a piece of paper law will evaluate whether that individual had the legal requisites to oblige himself to a contract (e.g. age, intellectual ability) as well as the components of the contract itself (e.g. date, location, parties).
An analytical view of existence discovers three existential dimensions: the objective world, the individual and the society. A human being and his “being in the world” can be apprehended objectively, individually and as part of that society. There is, therefore, a possibility to assess the same conduct ontologically through the lenses of this three dimensions or views. As a result, the same conduct may “mean” objectified coexistence or personalized coexistence or social coexistence. In the first case, the human being is an “author” or first cause; in the second case, the same human being is an autonomous peer; in the third case, he is a complement or a supplement.
Time and law.
Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020).
Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017).
Thursday 27th May 2021
Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez