A Political Reading of the Constitution

Fernando Munoz L., Yale Law School


Constitutional theory greatly benefits by the use of intellectual resources from disciplines such as political theory and philosophy of language. In this work, such elements are combined to elaborate on the agenda of constitutional theory and distinguish it from other projects. The emphasis is put on the possibility of understanding the constitution as a political grammar, providing its users –the participants of the politico-constitutional process broadly speaking– with syntactic rules and semantic signposts to formulate their ideas, projects, strategies. This view can account for the radical instability of constitutional meaning –in other words, disagreement– by pointing to the so-called separation of signifier and signified made prominent by contemporary philosophy, reinforced by the fact that the recursiveness and self-reference of written language makes the syntactic functions of the constitution open to the same instability that its semantic contents have. Regarding the constitution, just as any other text, we can proclaim the death of the author.