In the Beginning was the Deed

Ingo Venzke

in How Interpretation Makes International Law

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199657674
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191753114 | DOI:
In the Beginning was the Deed

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This introductory chapter sets the scene by showing how Ludwig Wittgenstein identified in search for certainty with Goethe’s tragic figure Faust. Faust tried the word, its true sense and the force behind the word as foundations in the search of beginning and meaning. None satisfied him and he ultimately found the solution in the deed. The chapter reads discussions in the International Law Commission surrounding the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and its rules of interpretation through the lens of Faust’s quarrels. It introduces the challenge for both sources doctrine and received ideas about the nature of interpretation that comes with semantic pragmatism and the proposition that it is the deed that generates meaning and legal normativity. The chapters draws attention to the legitimacy implications of this challenge in the specific constellation of the international legal order and sets out the book’s agenda.

Keywords: semantic pragmatism; Ludwig Wittgenstein; sources of international law; international law commission; the law of treaties; Vienna convention on the law of treaties; legal normativity; international legal order

Chapter.  8210 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law ; Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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