The Principles of Natural and Politic Law
Автор(и) : Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui
Издател : Liberty Fund, Inc.
Място на издаване : Indianapolis, USA
Година на издаване : 2006
ISBN : 978-0-86597-496-8
Брой страници : 579
Език : английски
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The year 1694 saw the death of Samuel Pufendorf, who, with Hugo Grotius, was the foremost representative of the modern tradition of natural law theory, and the birth of Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, who helped transform the tradition and convey it to new generations.
As professor of natural law in Geneva, Burlamaqui used Pufendorf’s works on natural law but taught and wrote on the subject in the vernacular, not in the traditional university Latin. By making natural jurisprudence more accessible, Burlamaqui helped make it part of civic education.
Burlamaqui intended his writings to defend a middle road between the two main rival traditions in early modern natural law theory, that deriving from Leibniz and Wolff and that from Pufendorf and Barbeyrac. In fact, he seems closer to the former.
The basis of this version of The Principles of Natural and Politic Law is Thomas Nugent’s 1763 English translation, which became a standard textbook at Cambridge and at many premier American colleges, including Princeton, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania. The first scholarly work on Burlamaqui was written by an American, M. Ray Forrest Harvey, who in 1937 argued that Burlamaqui was well known among America’s Founding Fathers and that his writings exerted considerable influence upon the American constitutional system.
In his introduction, Nugent said of Burlamaqui: “His singular beauty consists in the alliance he so carefully points out between ethics and jurisprudence, religion and politics, after the example of Plato and Tully, and the other illustrious masters of antiquity.”
"II. The idea of Right, and much more that of Natural Right, are undoubtedly relative to the nature of man. It is from this nature therefore, from the constitution and state of man, that we are to deduce the principles of this science.
The word Right (Droit ) in its original signification, comes from the verb dirigo, which implies, to conduct a person to some certain end by the shortest road. Right, therefore, in its proper and most general sense, and that to which all the others must be reduced, is whatever directs, or is properly directed. This being premised, the first thing we have to examine is, whether man is susceptible of direction and rule in respect to his actions. That we may attempt this with a greater probability of success, we are to trace matters to their very origin, and ascending as high as the nature and constitution of man, we must there unravel the principle of his actions, and the several states that properly belong to him, in order to demonstrate afterwards in what manner, and how<3> far, he is susceptible of direction in his conduct. This is the only method of knowing what is right, and what is not.
III. Man is an animal endowed with understanding, and reason; a being composed of an organized body, and a rational soul.
With regard to his body, he is pretty similar to other animals, having the same organs, properties, and wants. This is a living body, organized and composed of several parts; a body that moves of itself, and feeble in the commencement, increases gradually in its progress by the help of nourishment, till it arrives to a certain period, in which it appears in its flower and vigor, from whence it insensibly declines to old age, which conducts it at length to dissolution. This is the ordinary course of human life, unless it happens to be abridged by some malady or accident.
But man, besides the marvelous disposition of his body, has likewise a rational soul, which eminently discriminates him from brutes. It is by this noble part of himself that he thinks, and is capable of forming just ideas of the different objects that occur to him; of comparing them together; of inferring from known principles unknown truths; of passing a solid judgment on the mutual fitness or agreement of things, as well as on the relations they bear to us; of deliberating on what is proper or improper to be done; and of determining consequently to act one way or other. The mind recollects what is past, joins it with the present, and extends its views to futurity. It is capable of penetrating into the causes, progress, and consequence of things, and of disco-<4>vering, as it were at one glance, the intire course of life, which enables it to lay in a store of such things as are necessary for making a happy career. Besides, in all this, it is not subject to a constant series of uniform and invariable operations, but finds itself at liberty to act or not to act, to suspend its actions and motions, to direct and manage them as it thinks proper."
Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui (24 June 1694 – 3 April 1748) was a Swiss legal and political theorist, who popularised a number of ideas propounded by other thinkers.
Born in Geneva, at the age of twenty-five he was designated honorary professor of ethics and the law of nature at the University of Geneva. Before taking up the appointment he travelled through France and England, and made the acquaintance of the most eminent writers of the period.
On his return he began to lecture, and soon gained a wide reputation, from the simplicity of his style and the precision of his views. He continued to lecture for fifteen years, when he was compelled on account of ill-health to resign. His fellow-citizens at once elected him a member of the council of state, and he gained as high a reputation for his practical sagacity as he had for his theoretical knowledge. He died at Geneva on the 3rd of April 1748.
His works were
Principes du droit naturel (1747) and Principes du droit politique (1751). These have passed through many editions, and were very extensively used as text-books. Burlamaqui's style is simple and clear, and his arrangement of the material good. His fundamental principle may be described as rational utilitarianism, and represents a digest of the thoughts of like-minded theorists, particularly Richard Cumberland and Hugo Grotius.
The Principles of Natural and Politic Law was translated into six languages (besides the original French) in sixty editions. His vision of constitutionalism had a major influence on the American Founders; for example, Burlamaqui’s understanding of checks and balances was much more sophisticated and practical than that of Montesquieu, in part because Burlamaqui’s theory contained the seed of judicial review. He was frequently quoted or paraphrased, sometimes with attribution and sometimes not, in political sermons during the pre-revolutionary era. He was the first philosopher to articulate the quest for happiness as a natural human right, a principle that Thomas Jefferson later restated in the Declaration of Independence."
Burlamaqui's description of European countries as forming "a kind of republic the members of which, independent but bound by common interest, come together to maintain order and liberty" is quoted by Michel Foucault in his 1978 lectures at the Collège de France, in the context of a discussion of diplomacy and the law of nations.