The broad dissemination of digital communication technologies is raising disturbing questions about the nature of truth as representation. This epistemological crisis shares an uncanny affinity with the crisis of representation that lay at the heart of the baroque era during the seventeenth century in Europe. The resolution of that crisis, through the work of Descartes and others, came on the heels of a philosophical shift from the image to the sign. However, as Vico presciently realized 300 years ago, Descartes' semiotic model, together with the totalizing rational method that accompanies it, are ill-suited to civic flourishing. Today, signifiers shorn of the signified take the form of mutable digital signs, which proliferate as copies of copies. This mutation of the Cartesian sign into the digital image has coincided with significant political and juridical developments. Individual autonomy, universal reason, and calculative rationality—the traditional foundation for core liberal values, are being challenged by digital practices. Like the baroque crisis of visuality that preceded it, the current crisis of the digital neo-baroque will not ease until confidence is restored, not only in acceptable forms of truth as representation, but also in the mimetic faculty itself, which is to say, in the human capacity to represent self and others. "Sublime jurisprudence" is a metaphysical model that seeks to address this need. Its origin lay in the high rhetorical tradition that lives anew in Vico's ethical education of the legal imagination.
Richard K. Sherwin,
Sublime Jurisprudence: On the Ethical Education of the Legal Imagination in Our Time,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol83/iss3/5