Editorial 1: Jacob Israel De Haan, the First Legal Semiotician

  • Jan M. BroekmanEmail author
  • Larry Catá Backer


This chapter and the two next chapters are texts of the first legal semiotician in the world: the Dutch poet, novelist, politician, lawyer and legal scholar Jacob Israel de Haan, who lived until 1919 in Amsterdam and until 1926 in Jerusalem. The editorial focuses primarily on the inaugural lecture, held on October 31, 1916 and translated in English here for the first time. The lecture contains clearly an expose of signific principles and forms via them a fruitful challenge to legal thought formation. Major issues of the latter are: the advances and disadvantages of focusing on the word as a particle of language; the unnecessary isolation of legal argumentation and law’s reasoning from ordinary day-to-day language, the urgent need to understand more deeply and correctly all implications of the meanings of legal expressions. Most of these problems bring the author in vicinity to principles of Vienna positivism, but his signific/semiotic intuition makes him concentrate also on the social dimensions in his credo: “better language, better law”.


Good Language Legal Thought Inaugural Lecture Philosophical Publication Legal Semiotics 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dickinson School of LawPenn State UniversityCarlisleUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Law and International AffairsPenn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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