In this symposium, the editors have assigned the commentators a difficult task by requesting a response to Professor Levinson's speech. I disagree with little, if any, of what Professor Levinson has written.
Professor Levinson's article of faith stands poised between modernist and postmodernist sentiments about law and contains a degree of skepticism that I understand, share, and find uncomfortable. The modernism in Levinson's remarks, as I see it, is contained in his recognition (and partial acceptance) of paradox and contradiction in law, and his consequent rejection of, or agnosticism toward, legal dogma as the Way to Truth and Justice. As I read him, Levinson's bow to postmodernism is his desire for comfort in the existential quality of law through belief in law's power to order political institutions.
My discomfort stems from what I perceive to be a notable degree of skepticism. As a writer and as a teacher, I feel an obligation to make positive, authoritative statements about law, or at least to take recognizable positions. At the same time, skepticism, not humility, pulls me in another direction. I do not trust dogmatic assertions about law or legal education. I am torn between the need for explicit articulation of my beliefs and a simultaneous fear or distrust of them.
In the course of this essay, I want to uncover what attracts me to the liberal, intellectual pluralism Professor Levinson describes, and I want to explore why I cannot stay content resting within the interstices of indeterminacy surrounding this position.
Tomain, Joseph P., "Faith, Hope, and the Law Teacher: A Reaction to Professor Levinson" (1986). Faculty Articles and Other Publications. 246.