On Gravity and Gypsies

George Anastaplo

There has recently been posted on this anastaplo.wordpress website my article, “Lessons for the Student of Law: The Oklahoma Lectures” (20 Oklahoma City University Law Review 17-218 [1995]). This includes (at pages 153-79) “A Student of Law in the United States,” a talk I gave during the 1990 Annual Convention of the American Political Science Association in San Francisco, California. That talk (originally titled, “What Is Going on Here Anyway? Thoughts at Sixty-five”) anticipated the publication in 1992 of the two-volume festschrift, Law and Philosophy: The Practice of Theory; Essays in Honor of George Anastaplo (Ohio University Press; edited by John A. Murley, Robert L. Stone, and William T. Braithwaite).

I return here to the only two topics surveyed in that 1990 talk (at pages 156-60) that have not yet been discussed “enough” by me of all those listed as prospective topics on that occasion. One has to do with the natural sciences, the other with the Roma people (commonly referred to as the Gypsies).

Discussions of the mysteries of gravity can remind us of both the spectacular achievements and the evidently inevitable limitations of that modern science which is deeply dependent on mathematical descriptions. Thus, the causes (as distinguished from remarkable calculations about the workings)of gravity have long baffled even the greatest of the modern physicists. Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the gravity “phenomenon” is that it should continue to defy satisfactory explanation despite centuries of determined speculation. An immediately practical aspect of our inquiry here is what it can teach us about both the advantages and the limitations of any systematic inquiry which depends to a considerable extent on mathematical analyses and descriptions.

Discussions of the plight of the Roma people permit us to be reminded of the plight, over the centuries, of still other beleaguered minorities on this continent and elsewhere. Particularly remarkable is how little awareness there is today in this country of the million Roma who are said to live among us. But, then, consider how mysterious those gravitational forces also are that have always been “all around us.”

There may be found, at pages 156-58 of my 1990 San Francisco talk, speculations about the physical sciences. These are developed further in the dozen or so pieces on science and mathematics that have been posted on this website (including suggestions about something I have dubbed the ultron and including as well some perhaps presumptuous assessments by me of Isaac Newton).

There may also be found, at pages 159-60 of that 1990 talk, speculations about the Roma. Some indications of what needs to be learned by us are provided in the two Summer 2012 Loyola School of Law research reports posted by me on this website. Also relevant here should be the considerable work I have done, for decades now, on race relations in the United States.

Suggestions from thoughtful colleagues here and elsewhere can be hoped for about these two topics. It chances that Hyde Park neighbors of ours (who have again and again proved most helpful) may now be of use as well with respect to these two inquiries. After all, he is a distinguished astrophysicist, and she once worked in Cambridge, England with Travellers (as the Roma people are known in Britain). However productive these consultations may turn out to be, I was encouraged, over the years, by conversations with Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, another distinguished astrophysicist, who happened to come from the land which the Roma are often said to have left more than a millennium ago.

Hyde Park
Chicago, Illinois
August 2012

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