Vanderbilt Law Review


Iredell Jenkins

First Page



It is often the fate of the giants of thought to have their names live on while their doctrines are neglected, and even for their reputations to wax as their influence wanes. Indeed, this happens at some periods to the work that all such men leave behind them; it is esteemed but not appreciated, acknowledged but not cultivated. The precise reasons for this fall into oblivion vary with every individual case, but there is one factor that is common and constant: the prominence within the work of these men of ideas that push inquiry beyond the comfortable limits that are conventionally accepted. These ideas raise problems that upset complacence, they ask unexpected questions, they propose investigations never hitherto undertaken or even contemplated, and they require a radical effort of assimilation. The very characteristics that make such work great, and compel our attention and admiration, at the same time threaten our established modes of thought and challenge us to a thorough reconsideration of facts and doctrines that we had thought to have settled. So it is not surprising that, while such work commands the respect of all, it often fails to win the dedicated allegiance of any. The contributions that it makes are gladly accepted, and its influence is felt in a diffuse way;but it does not inspire even its adherents to insist on the questions that its author felt most urgently, or to press further the insights that he regarded as his most significant.