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This Symposium brings the considerable talents of a diverse group of scholars to bear on a pressing problem in legal theory: Whether critical theory is possible after the hermeneutical turn. All too often, this problem is framed to invite an “either-or” response. Either we reject the hermeneutical turn and hew to a traditional account of critique anchored by an unimpeachable standard (whether economic, historical, conceptual, cognitive, or otherwise), or we take the hermeneutical turn by embracing radical historical contingency and fluidity, thereby forsaking the possibility of critique and surrendering to conservative conventionalism or inviting postmodern chaos. This Symposium challenges this either-or formulation more than it proposes a definitive answer to the problem.

In this Foreword, I describe in very general terms the historical and political contexts for raising the question of critique in light of the hermeneutical turn, and then I briefly describe how each article contributes to our understanding of this question.

Publication Citation

76 Chi-Kent L. Rev. 719 (2000)