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10.-11.03.: Symposium - Statements (XIV)

The Laws of Communal Harmony
Jerome Bruner - New York University School of Law

Harmony's secret, of course, is 'unitas multiplex,' making the many into something more singular, more inherently self-sustaining. Harmony presupposes a prior disharmony to be tamed. Take 'communal harmony': people living at peace with each other. Its first requirement is mutual appreciation of difference -- differences of interests, of ways of thought, of modes of life. A system for achieving harmony provides the means for bringing difference into a workable relationship.

Constitutional law provides an example. The great American statesman, James Madison, argued that any extended nation must come to live with the different interests it serves -- local and national, commercial and spiritual, whatever. They can neither be ignored nor 'averaged out' but must be 'represented' in the system of government itself. Even at the highest level, there must be a 'representation' of all interests. In pursuit of this ideal, he proposed that even at the highest national level there be a 'separation of powers' that could be achieved by making place for three branches of government: (a) a locally elected body of representatives who 'made' the laws of the land in the name of nation as a whole but also with a mind to those whom they represented, (b) an executive body charged with 'carrying out' or enforcing these laws in the overall national interest, and (c) a judiciiary charged with judging whether, indeed, the laws so made and so executed met the representational demands intended in a founding constitution dedicated to seeking a workable relationship between inevitably contending interests -- e pluribus unum.

But social harmony must also assure predictable stability over time. And here enters a system of law, a system for assuring that law continue forever to follow agreed-upon common interests, that there be an established corpus juris and that it be forever taken into account -- the principle of stare decisis, as it is called.

So, as it were, there must be both horizontal and vertical harmony -- as with harmony and counterpoint in music. But we must beware, using the musical metaphor. We adore music for it can be taken out of the context of life and played in a concert hall. Communal harmony, alas, is bound to its setting. When we try to model it too closely on music, we risk the absurdities and cruelties of totalitarianism.

C. Trevarthen, J. Bruner, M. Theodorakis

Concluding Remarks from three Honorary Doctors of the University of Crete

Theodorakis's final statement

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