This book is a written version of lectures delivered before the Law School of Yale University as Storrs Lectures in the school year 1921-1922.
A metaphysician who had written on the secret of Hegel was congratulated upon his success in keeping the secret. One who essays an introduction to the philosophy of law may easily achieve a like success. His hearers are not unlikely to find that he has presented not one subject but two, presupposing a knowledge of one and giving them but scant acquaintance with the other. If he is a philosopher, he is not unlikely to have tried a highly organized philosophical apparatus upon those fragments of law that lie upon the surface of the legal order, or upon the law as seen through the spectacles of some jurist who had interpreted it in terms of a wholly different philosophical system. Looking at the list of authorities relied upon in Spencer's Justice, and noting that his historical legal data were taken from Maine's Ancient Law and thus came shaped by the political-idealistic interpretation of the English historical school, it is not difficult to perceive why positivist and Hegelian came to the same juristic results by radically different methods. On the other hand, if he is a lawyer, he will very likely have been able to do no more than attempt none too intelligently to work with the complicated and delicate engines of others upon the toughest and most resistant of legal materials. Until some Anglo-American jurist arises with the universal equipment of Josef Kohler the results of common-law incursions into philosophy will resemble the effort of the editorial writer who wrote upon Chinese Metaphysics after reading in the Encyclopædia Britannica under China and Metaphysics and combining his information. Yet such incursions there must be. Philosophy has been a powerful instrument in the legal armory and the times are ripe for restoring it to its old place therein. At least one may show what philosophy has done for some of the chief problems of the science of law, what stands before us to be done in some of the more conspicuous problems of that science today in which philosophy may help us, and how it is possible to look at those problems philosophically without treating them in terms of the eighteenth-century natural law or the nineteenth-century metaphysical jurisprudence which stand for philosophy in the general understanding of lawyers.
Harvard Law School,
October 25, 1921.
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