In his oration On the Study Methods of Our Time, Giambattista Vico conceived of the jurist as a person well schooled in law and in rhetoric, able to perform as an orator and a statesman. This ideal contrasts markedly with the modern conception of the lawyer as primarily a rule-technician and a judge. Studying the educational program unfolded by Vico, it becomes apparent that the arts and sciences of oratory, law and philosophy for him converge in the role model of the prudent legislator. This role model has become virtually meaningless in the culture of modem law through an emphasis on the idea of sociolegal positivism which carries the conviction that jurists are functioning as social engineers, especially when they are judges. From Vico we can learn that it is worthwhile to attempt to restore the internal connection between rhetoric and jurisprudence. This could lead to a reform of the law school curriculum. It will be possible to design modern equivalents of the topical method, deriving from the rhetorical tradition. Vico encourages a free use of the resources of the poetic imagination. And a curriculum on these lines warns against confusing all the other arts of language (such as the art of legislation) with the art of interpretation.
Willem J. Witteveen,
Reading Vico for the School of Law,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol83/iss3/6