A Clearing in the Forest: Law, Life, and Mind

TitleA Clearing in the Forest: Law, Life, and Mind
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsWinter, SL
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
Abstract

Cognitive science is transforming our understanding of the mind.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ New discoveries are changing how we comprehend not just language,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ but thought itself.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ Yet,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ surprisingly little of the new learning has penetrated discussions and analysis of the most important social institution affecting our lives-the law.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ Drawing on work in philosophy,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ psychology,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ anthropology,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ linguistics,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ and literary theory,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ Steven L.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ Winter has created nothing less than a tour de force of interdisciplinary analysis.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ A Clearing in the Forest rests on the simple notion that the better we understand the workings of the mind,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ the better we will understand all its products-especially law.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ Legal studies today focus on analytic skills and grand normative theories.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ But,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ to understand how real-world,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ legal actors reason and decide,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ we need a different set of tools.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ Cognitive science provides those tools,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ opening a window on the imaginative,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ yet orderly mental processes that animate thinking and decisionmaking among lawyers,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ judges,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ and lay persons alike.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ Recent findings about how humans actually categorize and reason make it possible to explain legal reasoning in new,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ more cogent,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ more productive ways.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ A Clearing in the Forest is a compelling meditation on both how the law works and what it all means.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ In uncovering the irrepressibly imaginative,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ creative quality of human reason,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ Winter shows how what we are learning about the mind changes not only our understanding of law,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ but ultimately of ourselves.$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ He charts a unique course to understanding the world we inhabit,$<$span class='Hi'$>$$<$/span$>$ showing us the way to the clearing in the forest.