Consilience - agreement between different academic subjects, especially sciences and the humanities, toward a topic. "Creativity in law requires a consilient approach; a theory of social action requires a working knowledge of" biology, intrapsychic psychology, social psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, history, and philosophy.

A lawyer devising a theory of social change ought to formulate a consequential one; a theory that accurately captures people's imaginations but fails to reflect their actions is worthless. Yet from the foundation of the theory of social change we discussed in class demonstrated by the hard sciences to the less tangible realms of economics and philosophy - both inherently abstracted from reality by virtue of their assumptions - we have neglected something essential to both creativity in law school and a working theory of social action: art.

"Human beings believe what they see and imagine what they hear."

By starting our L&CS class with song (a first at any level of my education) and a monologue about the impact of Lennon's death, I imagined art to be natural fit when we transitioned to the twin aims of 1) how to be creative in law school and 2) how to be creative in thinking about one's practice. Yet its relevance in the class has remained - thus far - limited to the overtures used to signal themes of the upcoming discussion.

Art ought to be recognized as an end in itself and within a consilient theory of social action. It is not quite a branch of cultural anthropology nor can it be summed up as mere byproduct/reflection of history. Art fits naturally within the existent order of disciplines our class has established as contributing to a working theory of social action, perhaps between sociology and anthropology. It has more predictive value of human behavior than the ivory tower of economics and in contrast to philosophy, art's accessibility spans socioeconomic divides. The breadth of things that can be defined as artistic expands over time - while literature, architecture, music, and painting have influenced social action for millennia, vlogs and streams and (dare I call memes art reduced to its most imitable form?) use the medium of technology to exert increasing social pressure on successive generations.

Art is a powerful agent of social change because it can take many forms, any one of which possesses intellectual and visceral force. You would not suspect this from the first semester-plus of law school, which renders art a mere object of the law to be pushed around by intellectual property theorists, admirable as a free-time pursuit but not worthy of serious study. Even rhetoric - the art of persuasion (perhaps useful for up-and-coming advocates?) - cannot find its own room amongst the diverse catalog of classes offered here at CLS.

This is incomplete, but art is what has been missing when I think about consequentialist theories of social change.


My Links

My Personal Data

Note: The email shown here, as well as your Columbia UNI will only be visible to yourself and administrators. If you wish to change this email, please use: ChangePassword


My Personal Preferences

Un-comment preferences variables to activate them (remove the #-sign). Help and details on preferences variables are available in TWikiPreferences.

  • Show tool-tip topic info on mouse-over of WikiWord links, on or off:
    • #Set LINKTOOLTIPINFO = off

Related Topics

For privacy reasons, some fields in this form are not visible when viewing the page.
To update either your Columbia email or UNI information, simply edit the page

Trash.FirstName: Xyzlo
LastName: Lee
ColumbiaCourses: Law and Contemporary Society