Reale, Miguel (1910–)

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Miguel Reale, the Brazilian philosopher of law, historian of ideas, and politician, was a professor of law and a rector at the University of São Paulo, where he founded the Instituto Brasileiro de Filosofia and its journal, Revista brasileira de filosofia. Reale is a prolific author, and his books embrace the full range of his concerns, although his greatest contribution lies in the philosophy of law.

Reale has developed an analytical method (derived from German phenomenology and Italian historicism) that he calls "critical ontognoseological historicism." Rejecting both traditional realism and idealism, he locates the transcendental conditions of human experience and knowledge in a fundamental and inseparable correlation of subject and object. These conditions are mutually implicit and reciprocally necessary and are comprehensible only as moments in a polar dialectical process. Man's being emerges only through his own historicity, as values are realized in time through his conduct. The person finds his essence (ser ) in what he ought to be (dever-ser ), and he is the source of all values. Values are possible only where there are persons, and personality consists in conduct that is comprehensible only with reference to ends and values. A phenomenological description of human action reveals its essential orientation toward ends that represent values determining action and serving as the foundation of the "ought-to-be" in which man finds his essence. Reale interprets human history as a process through which values are converted into ends, accompanied by cultural crises whenever a new generation refuses to recognize the value of traditional ends.

Legal phenomena are basic to the realization of values in common. In law, two persons are joined in a polar nexus of common needs. Reale distinguishes three traditional approaches to the understanding of the nature of law. Sociologism interprets law as a positive fact and explains it in sociological and historical terms. Neopositivism interprets law as the expression of the operative norms of a given society and analyzes its function therein. Culturalism interprets law as axiological in nature and investigates the transcendental conditions that make it possible. Reale rejects all three as merely partial interpretations. Fact, norm, and value, in his view, are dialectically unified and not merely juxtaposed. Law is a fact through which values are made concrete in history and through which intersubjective relations are normatively ordered.

See also Historicism; Idealism; Ideas; Latin American Philosophy; Philosophy of Law, History of; Philosophy of Law, Problems of; Realism; Value and Valuation.


works by reale

Teoria do direito e do estado (Theory of law and the state). São Paulo: Martins, 1972.

Filosofia do direito (Philosophy of law). São Paulo: Edição Saraiva, 1962.

Pluralismo e liberdade (Pluralism and liberty). São Paulo: Edição Saraiva, 1963.

works on reale

Revista brasileira de filosofia 11, Fasc. 42 (AprilJune 1961). Dedicated to Reale on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday, this issue contains five expository articles as well as other material about him, his thought, and activity.

Fred Gillette Sturm (1967)