In this article, the author responds to Pierre Schlag's statement that legal scholarship is dead and that live scholarship, by contrast to the stuff we produce, aims for truths that are both important and hard to uncover—the latter is what requires discipline, and the former distinguishes scholarship from ordinary observation. The “life” in lively scholarship lies partly in the quest but also in the substantial payoff: growth, when we have been convinced of something important and previously unknown; change, when we see the world differently because of it; restoration, when old truths are revalidated; breath itself, when new insights pry open up those proverbial doors of perception, and let in the cosmos.
Dead scholarship, of which legal scholarship is an example, also aims at truth—dead scholarship is scholarship, after all—but the truths are banal. They don’t rejuvenate; they open no pathways. They are “spam truths,” and scholarship that is composed of such truths is spam jurisprudence. Thus, as Pierre’s Spam Jurisprudence suggests, there are the truths that are so dull that they deaden your senses, and then there are the truths that are the object of live scholarship—just as there’s spam that will fill you up and real nutrition that tastes good, and just as there’s electronic spam on the one hand and “electronic mail that matters” on the other. If our legal scholarship consists of spam truths—even worse if it actually aims for spam truth—then it’s dead. It’s missing what gives live scholarship life.
97 Geo. L.J. 865-875 (2009)
Scholarly Commons Citation
West, Robin, "A Reply to Pierre" (2009). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 832.