Sunday, October 03, 2010

Musings over law studies

In last few days I am pondering over my ignorance for law studies I have had in the past. It is such a wonderful domain to study if one prepares himself to make the reading a habit. Although I am fond of reading, Law as the subject of study had never appealed me until very recent. I was always told by my friends in this field that they had to remember innumerable clauses and sub-clauses all the time and reproduce the 'right' clause at any time. Most of their energy was consumed in that activity and many of them were completely possessed by the fear of forgetting a clause or two. It was horrible! By that exclamation, I mean, I felt that the exercise of testing my memory, in case I were in their shoes, could be nothing less than a horrible experience! Whole prospect sounded unattractive. But then, in last few years, as I was growing up (read my brain) and when I read a few pieces in the constitution of India, a realization dawned upon me that studying law was interesting, rather damn interesting exercise. Myself being an ardent science follower, it was not going to be the mainstream activity for me. It will never be in future either. But today I have realized that some basic knowledge of the law and judiciary system is must for me as an element of the society. Similarly, in my opinion, it is necessary for all of us to understand this system.

I feel, studying law will become easier if one considers that law is driven by logic, kind of a rational logic. 'viveka', pronounced as विवेक in Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi and also in probably a few other Sanskrit-derivatives. It will immensely help the student of law if he decides not to be driven by impulses of swaying mind. This impulse, I think, is different from intuitiveness of the mind. Intuition gives the mind a direction, logical and desired during those circumstances, without going through the elaborate process of decision making. In the following paragraphs, I will try to analyze how in normal circumstances decisions are arrived at. I will also try to list the steps in order to elaborate this point.  And in the end, I will try to relate the usefulness of being good at decision making to study law.

The process of the brain's decision making follows the course of the steps listed below.
  • Searching the data in form of information held by the brain,
  • Collating relevant pieces,
  • Forming and comparing alternatives,
  • Applying best of the available criterion, and
  • Finally making a choice.
The above steps can be elaborated with a more comprehensive structure of sub-steps. I have not ventured into that for the sake of brevity. As I have mentioned earlier, the decisions are not merely taken via this process, but they are arrived at through a carefully formulated methodology. In the present context, we can safely consider this methodology as the logic. Coming back to the intuition, I would like to mention that the intuition can bypass one or more steps in the above list. At times it can lead to the final step straight away. It also helps when none of the bits and pieces of information available is concerned with the circumstances leading to non-existence of the foundation on which the decision is to be arrived at. Intuition leads the mind in such uncertainty. A stable but brave mind can adapt the thought suggested by intuition and also can start following it. But this is where the real danger lies. Such following will yield disastrous results if the path directed by the intuition-led decision turns out to be a wrong one at a later stage. On the other hand, if the intuition-led course is followed with utmost caution and the new circumstances are continuously examined and correctness of the course is verified, we are safely lead to the desired destination more likely than not. Impulsive mind lacks these qualities, caution and the analytical quality of intuitive mind, and often leads to disappointing results.

Student of law can not rely upon intuitive thinking alone. He has to master the decision making process. He will be greatly benefited by intuition of the right kind if the results of the meticulously arrived decision and his intuition coincide. Such occurrence surely has huge potential to boost his confidence. This quality can be of vital importance to the lawyers, judges, law-makers and the law enforcement agencies; not to forget the curious students like you and me.

'viveka' of the law student plays an important role in this process. It helps while working on almost all the steps. It is worth noting here that this quality does not have alternative especially in deciding which of the pieces of information are relevant and also in deciding the criterion for evaluating different alternatives or possibilities found plausible. The student whose mind is occupied with the continuous quest for finding the truth is certain to have this quality. In other words, this quality comes naturally with the desire for the quest for truth.

Having discussed about the basic qualities to study law I will briefly touch upon how law is looked upon in the real world. Law is considered to be a system of rules, usually enforced through a set of institutions. Law shapes almost every sphere of life like politics, economics and society in numerous ways. It serves as a primary social mediator of relations between people. I have borrowed this definition of law from wikipedia originally phrased by legal philosopher H.L.A. Hart. This also prompts the student to have fundamental knowledge of the various spheres of life like a few listed above. This is where the mention of first quality, the habit of reading, comes into picture. It also helps in studying various cases and verdicts delivered in the past. Basic element of the society is a human being. Thus being a good observer of people and events also becomes essential for the student of law. Today being up to date about latest happenings has no longer remained difficult due to advanced print and electronic media and also due to widespread world wide web.

To sum the things up, I would like to say that studying law is an interesting and pleasant challenge for any curious intellectual. Events and their repercussions in society are good triggers for invoking interest in law studies. Also these studies have become a necessity for the professionals not as a part of acquiring general knowledge but to actually set up a regulatory framework for various transactions in their own organizations. Thus the student of law, how ever part time his studies could be, need to have a few qualities namely: liking for reading, logical and analytical ability, 'viveka', methodical decision making ability coupled with intuitiveness, hunger for knowledge, an urge to find truth and last but not the least, a lot of patience. Here I will conclude with a hope that every thing that I have tried to tell myself till this word will motivate myself to spend more time studying law.

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