Chapter

Diamonds and String: Holmes on the Common Law

H. L. A. Hart

in Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy

Published in print November 1983 | ISBN: 9780198253884
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681431 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198253884.003.0014
Diamonds and String: Holmes on the Common Law

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This chapter provides a discussion on Holmes' famous book, The Common Law. This book, reintroduced to the general reader by Professor Mark Howe of Harvard, resembles a necklace of splendid diamonds surprisingly held together at certain points by nothing better than string. The diamonds are the marvellous insights into the genius of the common law and the detailed explorations of the dynamic of its growth; they still flash their illuminating light on the dark areas beneath the clear and apparently stable forms of legal thought. The string is the sometimes obscure and hasty argument, the contemptuous dismissal of rival views, and the exaggerations with which Holmes sought to build up the tendencies which he found actually at work in the history of the law into a tough, collective philosophy of society.

Keywords: Holmes; The Common Law; diamonds; string; Mark Howe; philosophy of society

Chapter.  3035 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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