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Goethe’s Challenge

Glanert, Simone (2013) Goethe’s Challenge. Journal of Comparative Law, 8 (2). pp. 288-321. ISSN 1477-0814. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:46188)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)


The European Union is the glittering theater of many initiatives seeking to unify or harmonize various sectors of law across the civil law/common law historic divide. Along the way, many European lawyers have reached the conclusion that no claim can now usefully be made against the idea of evermore uniformization of laws. Yet, a primordial question remains largely unaddressed. Supposing transnational legal motions to be desirable on account of diverse political and economic considerations, do these endeavours require a re-arrangement of laws that would eliminate legal pluralism – as appears to be reflexively assumed? I answer in the negative. For the purposes of my argument, I draw extensively on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s idea of ‘Weltliteratur’, which he developed in 1827 in a context where leading German intellectuals wanted to displace the cultural agenda beyond the narrow confines of parochial interests. In my opinion, Goethe presents a compelling thesis for the view that a globalized discourse need not be achieved through the sacrifice of local knowledges. In the process, he affords the critic of Europeanization of laws the opportunity to challenge postulates to the effect that the only valid transnational paradigm ought to manifest itself in the form of ‘one-law-fits-all’. Signalling the virtues of an indisciplined approach to uniformization of laws on the European stage – of a perspective that literally takes one beyond the discipline of law –, Goethe’s strong message to European lawyers is that one ought to embrace cosmopolitanism while simultaneously valuing and seeking to preserve local knowledges.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Simone Glanert
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2014 16:28 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:21 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Glanert, Simone:
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