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date: 18 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reflects on New Presentism and its implications for legal historians. The proponents of New Presentism believe that legal historians have an obligation to use their training to help society. This belief has its roots in Plato’s allegory of the cave, in book VII of The Republic. There, those who were removed from their chains and brought out of the cave into the world of light were expected to return to the darkness of the cave to teach those left behind. Education, represented in the allegory by the chance to go out of the cave into the light, brought with it responsibility to share the knowledge gained from exposure to the reality behind the shadows. However, the allegory of the cave also raises some cautions that we would do well to consider. The responsibility to return to the cave is a responsibility that carries with it serious costs.

Keywords: legal history, legal historians, presentism, Plato, allegory, cave

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