chapter  1
19 Pages

Judging the past: three ways of understanding time

ByAntoine Garapon

The way that governments treat their citizens has long been subject to review by courts and is the bedrock of the rule of law. This chapter draws a distinction between three different ways of understanding time: time as specific to the modern era, time as a specific moment in which the past is enacted again on the symbolic stage of the criminal trial and time as an articulation between space and the world-system. To reduce the moral weight of the past, the new order of historicity sets time aside to concentrate on the moment of the trial only. Complementarity introduces a new relationship between exteriority and interiority that characterizes a new way of looking at space and time: they are no longer mutually exclusive but may be combined in novel ways. The principle of complementarity, which builds a bridge directly between international institutions and national courts, reminds one of the connections that existed between Rome and the local churches.