Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Symbol of Justice as the Goddess of Justice: How Did That Happen?

Connecting to our previous posting on "Justice", we wondered how it happened that the symbol of justice in America came to be portrayed as a "goddess" of justice, bearing a sword and wearing a blindfold.

Was this an "original" concept?

N.S. Gill at gives us a quick view of the history of this symbol at Themis, Dike, Justitia and Lady Justice.

Making Justice Popular as a Topic: Michael Sandel of Harvard Shows Us How

It is quite remarkable that anyone could make the topic of "justice" as popular as Michael Sandel of Harvard has.

As Thomas L. Friedman wrote on June 14, 2011 in the New York Times at Justice Goes Global:
"You probably missed the recent special issue of China Newsweek, so let me bring you up to date. Who do you think was on the cover — named the “most influential foreign figure” of the year in China? Barack Obama? No. Bill Gates? No. Warren Buffett? No. O.K., I’ll give you a hint: He’s a rock star in Asia, and people in China, Japan and South Korea scalp tickets to hear him. Give up?
It was Michael J. Sandel, the Harvard University political philosopher." [emphasis added by LawPundit]
Let me turn the clock back 40 years to my days as a student at Stanford Law School, when I was the personal assistant to Professor John Kaplan and edited his unexpectedly popular Criminal Justice textbook which was first published in 1973 by Foundation Press and became a true college course best seller, being used at hundreds of universities, and, as John confided humorously to me later on about the book's success: "it has taken me off the welfare rolls".

As I have previously written at
"During the time that I was still a law student at Stanford
I edited the first edition of a legal textbook entitled Criminal Justice,
written by the late Professor John Kaplan of Stanford Law School.

As John's student assistant in those days,
I also helped to select materials for inclusion as substantive content
and helped to formulate questions for students,
which were then appended to the ends of cases or to close out chapters.

Working as a team and having a great deal of intellectual fun in the process,
we thus came up with a clear, lively and easily understandable volume
which became one of the best-selling college textbooks ever,
being ultimately used in over 300 universities.

The book has gone into multiple authorship since John's passage.
It has also experienced many changes since then and is now in its 5th edition.

See: Criminal Justice: Introductory Cases and Materials
by John Kaplan, Jerome H. Skolnick, Malcolm M. Feeley
Publisher: Foundation Press; 5th edition (December 1991) "
What is interesting for me is that Professor Sandel seems to take a similar approach to Justice in his classes and presentations, making an extremely interesting and popular topic out of a legally-related subject that often can bore people to tears.

Well done, Michael!

Justice Video Series by Michael Sandel of Harvard a Tremendous Success (plus) Education Top 10 2001-2011 YouTube Videos at The Chronicle of Higher Education

Rachel Wiseman at the Wired Campus blog at The Chronicle of Higher Education presents the Top 10 YouTube Edu Videos, as judged by the number of views, also noting that the 2009 video series on justice by Harvard prof Michael Sandel, which is not eligible for the top ten 2010-2011 list, has been seen ca. 1.6 million times thus far, which would perhaps put it at the alltime top of EDU videos....

We post about Sandel next.

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