The theory of the state - PDF book by Johann Caspar Bluntschli

The theory of the state

The theory of the state - Johann Caspar Bluntschli
Johann Caspar Bluntschli


Excerpt from the translators' introudction:

The Theory of the Modern State ' (Lehre vom modern Stat) by the late Professor Johann Kaspar Bluntschli, of Heidelberg, may be described as an attempt to do for the European State what Aristotle accomplished for the Hellenic.

 The material being far more complex, the task is very much more difficult, but Bluntschli's is, at least, the most successful attempt that has been made. We have hardly any works in English which we can put beside it in respect of intention and compass; and of these, none is equally useful for the student. No writer can escape the influence of his surroundings, and although Germany was only his adopted country, he being a native of Zurich, Bluntschli's point of view is sometimes too exclusively German. But perhaps this is not altogether a disadvantage to us: the endeavour to understand a mode of looking at some political subjects, different from that to which we are accustomed, may not be without its uses. On the whole, Bluntschli is a candid and fair critic both of actual constitutions and of political theories. 

Occasionally he may betray some of the prejudices of German officialism; occasionally, too, he may push to a somewhat amusing extreme his ' organic ' or ' psychological ' conception of the State. But these are slight defects, more likely to throw light on the individuality of the author than to mislead the judicious reader. The work here translated, the Allgemeine Statslehre^ is only the first part of the ' Theory of the Modern State.' 

The relation of the other two parts, the Allgemeines Statsrecht and Politik, to it and to one another is explained in Chapter I of the Introduction. This first part goes over the whole ground of what we call ' Political Science,' though some subjects are treated in much greater detail in the two other parts *. The translators have not aimed at a rigid uniformity. 

Where there seemed a risk of misstating the author's ideas, a more literal style has been employed than where the meaning was quite obvious, and occasionally considerable abridgement has been found possible. One of the chief difficulties has arisen from the impossibility of getting exact equivalents to the technical terms of German Law and Politics. As the use of a translation is not limited to those who know nothing of the original language, the practice has been adopted of giving the German words in brackets, after the English, in all cases where this seemed likely to save ambiguity or to help the student. It is a peculiar misfortune of our language to have no precise term for Recht 

 It afterwards grew into two volumes. Finally, when a fifth edition (1875) became necessary, he added the volume called Politik, the two other parts corresponding in the main to the two volumes of the original Statsrecht. = legal state, etc.), though these terms fail to express the distinction 
Sometimes, rarely, the word ' Right ' has been used, e.g. where it was necessary to bring out the antithesis between Right and Might. Bluntschli himself remarked on the difference between the German and English uses of Volk and 'people,' Nation and 'nation' (Book II, Ch. ii); but it will be found that he goes too far in supposing our use to be the exact converse of the German. 

The fact is, our word ' people,' though often less political in its signification than Volk, is more political than the German word Nation. Thus we must translate Volksvertretung by ' Representation of the people,' and we can only render Populus Romanus by ' the Roman people.' 


In many cases where Bluntschli uses the term State ' (Stat) it would be more idiomatic English to say * nation,' which is more exclusively political in its meaning than the German Volk; but the word ' State ' has been advisedly retained everywhere as a technical term to translate Stat, except where it occurs in compounds such as Statsrecht. It should be noted however that Stat is always much wider than our term ' Government/ with which 'State' is often used convertibly. ' Government,' again, because of this frequent equivalence with ' State,' is wider than the German Regierung.

 A good account of the different terms for ' Law ' will be found in Clark's Practical Jurisprudence, a Comment on Austin. It would be interesting to trace the connexion between some peculiarities of English Jurisprudence and this want of a distinctive word for Jus.

The references given by Bluntschli in the foot-notes have been carefully verified as far as possible. Several of them, unfortunately, are to works not easily accessible in this country.

 In many cases, they have been corrected and supplemented. Additional references have been made to Aristotle's Politics. In these, the books are quoted according to the order of the MSS. and the old editions, not the conjectural order of St. Hilaire, etc., adopted by Congreve and Welldon. The chapters and sections are those of the Oxford edition of Bekker, and the pages of the great Berlin edition of Aristotle have in most cases been added.

Some contents:


CHAPTER I. Political Science 1
Political Science defined: it does not include certain sciences which are auxiliary to it.— Divided into Public Law and Politics. These distinguished from Ethics: their relation to one another. — The Theory of the State in general is to be considered first.

CHAPTER II. Scientific Methods 5
methods true and false. — False methods: Ideology and Empiricism.— True methods: The historical and the philosophical: These united by the greatest writers: they supplement and correct each other.

CHAPTER III. General and Special Political Science . . l0
General Political Science based on Universal History.— What periods and races are significant.

CHAPTER IV. II. The Middle Ages 41
A. Christianity.— Attitude of the Early Church to the State. — The Papacy.— Pope and Emperor.— B. The J^eulons.— Their power: their character. — The idea of individual rights. — ' Particularism ' in politics. — Surviving tradition from antiquity. — Feudal law. — C. The influence of the Renaissance. The Roman Church kept alive the ideas of the Roman Empire. — The Holy Roman Empire. — Roman Law. — Republican traditions. — Gree theories. — The Renaissance: Influence of the Classical Revival.

the book details :
  • Author: Johann Caspar Bluntschli was a Swiss jurist and politician. Together with fellow liberals Francis Lieber and Édouard RenĂ© de Laboulaye, he developed one of the first codes of international law and war.
  • Publication date: 1895
  • Company: Oxford: The Clarendon press

  • Download  The theory of the state 20.6 MB

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