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The Trial: A History, from Socrates to O.J. Simpson - Essay Example

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In philosophy there is a single common thread that law originates from the Gods, which is the initial point made in Kadri's The Trial. Whether one believes in God or not the fear of punishment in the name of an all powerful unknown being was set forth to create law and order in society…
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The Trial: A History, from Socrates to O.J. Simpson

Download file to see previous pages... Yet, even the words of Christ in the New Testament invokes a fear of an unknown all powerful being by leaving final judgement in the hands of God. The Qur'an, which is the latest of the three great monotheistic religions, was an acknowledgement that there needs to be strict rules defining all aspects of life in order for the rights and freedoms to be fairly expressed.
One may ask how this affects the modern trial, well in reality the route of laying down laws whilst protecting rights and freedoms is mirrored by the modern debate concerning inherent rights, utilitarian rights or balancing these rights through the Rawlsian model. Rights and freedoms are an essential area that must be considered in a trial, alongside with the laws that are apparently breached. The modern trial is based upon the concept of justice, right to defend oneself and the concept of innocent until proven guilty; therefore the concept of rights are essential to a fair trial.
These rights like the laws are given to man by a greater power, this concept does not only stem from the theological perspectives of Judaism, Christianity and Islam but also in the early Greek and Roman mythologies and philosophies. Also as The Trial in the first two chapters introduces that these concepts of fairness, justice and the rights of the individuals are not only limited to Western Philosophy, but also Eastern Philosophies. In respect to the three central religions there is much controversy whether they are truly Eastern and Western philosophies, because it is in the Middle East that the East met the West and a mixture of philosophies occurred. The opening paragraph of The Trial illustrates that the first known trial came out of the advanced ancient civilization of Babylon:
The oldest complete legal code yet discovered, inscribed onto a black cone by the Babylonians almost four thousand years ago, shows Shamash, god of the sun enthroned and handing down his edicts to a reverential King Hamurabi (Kadri, page 3).
This scene was re-iterated in similar scenes of the Jewish and Greek mythologies:
Jehovah reportedly did much the same thing a few centuries later, carving Ten Commandments onto two tablets with His own fingers as Moses stood on fiery Mount Sinai It was said of Crete's King Minos that he climbed Mount Olympus every nine years to receive legal advice from Zeus (Kadri, page 3).
Therefore a primary factor of early trials is to literally put the fear of God into the citizenry to ensure that there is law and order. If this fear of God was mocked by the citizen breaking the law then punishment and retribution was the response.
In the modern trial there are still the elements of retribution and punishment; however there is also a new emphasis on rehabilitation and the rights of the accused. This is closer to the themes in the philosophy of Greeks, but not those such as Socrates and Plato who argued for democracy and the rule of the best, where the rights of citizens were not protected and trials were at the whim of the oligarchy. The result for Socrates was an unfair trial and death for going against the oligarchy that were deemed the right hand of God on the earth (Kadri, page 10). The punishment of Socrates was gross and in the public's eye to repel his followers in to falling in line with the current system of law:
The Athens that put Socrates on trial was a shadow of a city that Aeschylus had ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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