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Zeligs, M.A. (1966). The Disinherited and the Law: By Dagobert D. Runes. New York: Philosophical Library, Inc., 1964. 79 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 35:451-452.

(1966). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 35:451-452

The Disinherited and the Law: By Dagobert D. Runes. New York: Philosophical Library, Inc., 1964. 79 pp.

Review by:
Meyer A. Zeligs

This small volume consists of a collection of twenty brief essays. Each is an original gem that reflects a facet of human truth as it exposes the vagaries of the law. 'We have become accustomed by tradition and education to consider the law a symbol of Justice.' Nothing, Runes insists, could be further from the truth: 'The law neither serves justice nor respects it'.

The law is time-honored and culture-bound rather than humanistically or equitably determined. The farmer in California, the author points out, who owns a wine cellar, would be marked a criminal in the Kingdom of Yemen for possession of alcoholic beverages.

All twenty essays repeat the author's central theme—that the law is not a symbol of justice, but rather an expression of the wishes and desires of those in dominance. Yet Runes has not lost faith, for he is well versed in the philosophy of the law and the theories behind it and believes these to be noble and edifying. It is the law in practice, its geographic travesties and the frequency, almost universality, of its unjust application, that Runes takes issue with in this rich, humanistic collection of scholarly essays.

The author does not plead for abolition of the law, but rather for the investiture of justice. Each of the essays serves as a concrete reminder of man's inhumanity to man. This handy, lean book can be read by all with benefit and enjoyment. It may prove especially enlightening to those who regard the law in human affairs as sacrosanct.

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