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Beauty and the Beast: Art and Law in the Hall of Mirrors


Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos


A connection between art and law is the focus of this article. This connection is based on their autopoietic, self-referential nature as described by Niklas Luhmann in his legal sociology and his treatise on art. Expectedly, the two systems have different behavioural patterns. While art takes a narcissistic pleasure in its self-referentiality and augments the paradox by reproducing itself and its structures as a conscious hyper reality, law is still tied up in its missionary role as an instrument for social justice and regards any insinuation to self-referentiality as an affront. While some basic but ultimately prosaic questions such as ‘what is art?’ and ‘what is law?’ will inevitably be posed, they will happily be left unanswered, not only for sanity’s sake, but also for a specific methodological reason: the questions will be projected onto themselves in an attempt to locate the respective roles of the two systems – those of art and law. The result is an observation on whether there is indeed a need for an ‘external’, hallopoietic stand point from which to exert critique and instigate social change, or whether the so-perceived ‘offensiveness’ of self-referentiality is a vehicle for unspectacular yet effective social amelioration.
How to Cite: Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, A. (2003). Beauty and the Beast: Art and Law in the Hall of Mirrors. The Entertainment and Sports Law Journal, 2(3), 1. DOI:
Published on 22 Sep 2003.
Peer Reviewed


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