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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


VAN DER MERWE, Derek. NP van Wyk Louw's ideal of justice. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.2, pp.351-365. ISSN 2224-7912.

The concept of justice in NP van Wyk Louw's work finds its most complete expression in the drama text Die dieper reg ("the deeper justice") and in an essay entitled "Die ewige trek", both written in 1938. The strongly nationalistic tones characterising these works (1938 was the centenary year of the Great Trek), the linguistic licence he allowed himself to express his particular concept of justice and an underlying dualism in his use of a combination of the above resulted in critics' apparent struggle to acknowledge an inherent worth in Louw's view of justice as a philosophical construct. This essay seeks to present an argument for an understanding of his concept of justice in these and other works as an expression of the Platonic idea of law ("Rechtsidee"). It is proposed that the question often posed and variously answered by the politically inept Voortrekkers and their nineteenth-century descendants, namely "Who has the king's voice?", as a fundamental question of democratic statehood is a good example of an - ultimately unattainable - search for an ideal of justice, of the idea of law, that would satisfy Van Wyk Louw's concept of justice within an emerging nationhood. That search, conducted in the context of an open discourse, was just such a "powerful metaphysical instrument of the spirit" that elevated the Voortrekkers and their nineteenth-century descendantsthrough trial and error to "a higher form of humanity". The current South African Constitution is the contemporary repository of the "king's voice" and loyalty to its values and principles is fundamental to a proper understanding and expression of Van Wyk Louw's idea of law.

Keywords : justice; law; idea of law; Plato; king's voice; Great Trek; Voortrekkers; (Afrikaner) nationalism; (Afrikaner) nationhood; profound law; will-and-deed; dualism; existentialism; loyalty to loyalty; choice; constitution.

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