CUHK LAW Legal Thinkers’ Seminar – ‘Axel Hägerström and the Lure of the Mystical in Law’ by Prof. Kaius Tuori (Online)
30 Nov 2023
4:00 – 5:00pm
Online via ZOOM
Prof. Kaius Tuori
Kaius Tuori is Professor of European Intellectual History at the University of Helsinki and was Director of the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and European Narratives (2018–2025). A scholar of legal history involved in research projects on the understanding of tradition, culture, identity, memory and the uses of the past, he is the author of, i.a. Empire of Law: Nazi Germany, Exile Scholars and the Battle for the Future of Europe (Cambridge University Press 2020), The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Lawyers and Savages: Ancient History and Legal Realism in the Making of Legal Anthropology (Routledge, 2014).
During the final decades of the 19th century and the first half of the twentieth century, a movement called legal realism challenged the notion that law existed in a realm of ideas as norms whose application was a pure logical process. In contrast, realists claimed that because law operates in the social reality, it needs to take into account life, not only social reality but also factors such as culture. As precursors of the law and society movement, legal realism revolutionalized law both in the United States and Europe. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss one of the most influential (and strange) of European legal realists, the Swedish scholar Axel Hägerström. Hägerström wanted to reveal the inbuilt mysticism and ritualism in law, to bring out what he saw as the most ancient, primitivistic and magical elements of law. During the presentation, we will discuss not only Hägerström’s writings, but also the wider antiformalistic trends in culture and intellectual life, from art to music and literature and how these trends embraced the idea of man as animal with urges uncontrolled by reason.
CPD credits are available upon application and subject to accreditation by the Law Society of Hong Kong (currently pending).