Yes, Virginia, the origins of law are also to be found in astronomy, where, according to Bertrand Russell, mankind derived its first conceptions of natural law. After all, law is a choice of order over chaos in a space-time continuum, but this choice is not necessarily mandated by experience, but originally was probably mandated by observation of the heavenly orbs. Man used to work from sunup to sundown – it was a question of light … and Sun. Astronomy.
As we have previously written:
“As the great Sir Bertrand Russell, “British philosopher, logician, essayist, and social critic” wrote 2 years after my birth in Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits, Simon and Schuster, Clarion Books, New York, 1948:
“Astronomy is the oldest of the sciences, and the contemplation of the heavens, with their periodic regularities, gave men their first conceptions of natural law.”
Russell further opined that the legacy of astronomy in our “way of life” carries down to the present day, writing:
“Although we are taught the Copernican astronomy in our textbooks, it has not yet penetrated to our religion or our morals….How far has the American outlook on life and the world influenced Europe, and how far is it likely to do so?And first of all: What is the distinctively American outlook? And what, in comparison, is the distinctively European outlook? Traditionally, the European outlook may be said to be derived from astronomy. When Abraham watched his flocks by night, he observed the stars in their courses: they moved with a majestic regularity utterly remote from human control. When the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, He said: ‘Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?’ The reply was in the negative. Even more relevant is the question: ‘Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?”
To the LexiLine List we have now just posted the following:
As just reported today (one hour ago) by Dennis Overbye in the New York Times, two American astronomers have just won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics for their contributions to cosmology and to our understanding of the universe in which we all live.
This Nobel award is quite remarkable, as Nobel Prizes for astronomers are rare.
We thus congratulate heartily
John Mather of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and
George Smoot of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California.
Really, to the question, “what’s it all about, Alfie?”,
the answer is, it is all about astronomy.
As we have previously written :
“Eusebius wrote regarding Manetho’s lists for the length of the rule of Egyptian Pharaohs that:
“ALL [reigns] were astronomy”.
The secret to ancient chronology is thus stated in ancient sources quite clearly
– it is ALL astronomy.“
To understand the universe, you have to understand astronomy.
To understand the ancient world, you have to understand astronomy.”
And we might add here,
to understand the law, you have to understand astronomy, because time is a function of astronomy, and time and the law are integrally related at the most basic level of social “order”.
Our average 8 to 5 professional existence is still guided by the Sun and law is merely the human executor of this function insofar as it regulates human activity within the 24 hours of a day – it is ALL astronomy.
At least it WAS. Or is it changing in the modern world?
Has law supplanted astronomy?
See in this regard A TIME FOR EVERY PURPOSE: LAW AND THE BALANCE OF LIFE by Todd D. Rakoff. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002. ISBN: 0-674-00910-X. Reviewed by Christine A. Yalda, School of Justice Studies, Arizona State University.