The joys of law

More wisdom to cheer us up.  It being my birth month, I'm fulfilling my continuing legal education requirements for the year, which I always do online.  Today's topic is immigration law, and my seminar materials came with this jewel from the Fifth Circuit:
Whatever guidance the regulations furnish to those cognoscenti familiar with INS procedures, this court, despite many years of legal experience, finds that they yield up meaning only grudgingly and that morsels of comprehension must be pried from mollusks of jargon.
- Dong Sik Kwon v. Immigration & Naturalization Service, 646 F.2d 909 ( 5th Cir. 1981)


Grim said...

A problem not limited to the law, for whatever comfort that provides.

Joseph W. said...

...which is none! What a species we are.

A comfort to me when I switched from physical chemistry to law, was this thought: Nature didn't make the physical world fit human intuition. There's no guarantee that everything out there is comprehensible to anyone, let alone to, say, me. But every bit of law is made by humans for humans, and therefore simply must be possible for humans to understand...And yet, it seems, there are some who dedicated their lives to proving me wrong about that.

(Actually, the hardest stuff -- the Rule Against Perpetuities rates near the top, say most law students -- really does make a kind of sense when you delve into it. But when you wonder why people would do it that way, it makes your head hurt.)

Cass said...

"Mollusks of jargon" would be a bitchin' name for a rock band.

Just sayin'.

Grim said...


You would like Nicholas of Cusa, maybe. He was a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, but equally sure that we weren't meant to understand anything at all.

Actually, before you get to him, you should read more Aristotle. You've been asking me about his understanding of animals, and I haven't given it adequate defense given that I broadly agree with your conclusions. But before you decide on those conclusions, you should read this. Aristotle was really the premier empirical biologist of his age: his writings on dissection and the divisions of animals were cited as authorities two thousand years after he died.

Joseph W. said...

That much I actually knew - in Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment, Aristotle comes across as the most accomplished human being ever. Murray's criteria involve the amount of space each important figure takes up in various standard reference works...not the perfect standard, perhaps, but a good numerical one that lets him play with the data and unearth many interesting patterns.

One reason Aristotle rates so highly because he pops up in several places, including biology as well as philosophy.

Joseph W. said...

(I should say "western philosophy" - Murray tabulates art and philosophy for separate cultures separately.)

Grim said...

That much I actually knew - in Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment, Aristotle comes across as the most accomplished human being ever.

That's something like a fair assessment. He stood on the shoulders of giants, of course: but it happens to be the case that most of those giants we know chiefly because he mentions them and explains their views.