Samuel Pufendorf

Biography : Born Samuel Pufendorf in 1632 in Dorfchemnitz (Saxony) as the son of a Lutheran clergyman. Influenced by Grotius and Hobbes. Studied theology in Leipzig, then law in Jena; in 1658 promoted Master of Law. Accepted a position as tutor of the son of the Swedish ambassador in Copenhagen. In 1661 called to the University of Heidelberg to teach Natural and State Law; in 1668 called to the University of Lund; published De Jure Naturae et Gentium 1672. Was attacked by Lutheran theologians for his theory of natural law. In 1677 King of Sweden appointed him court historian; compiled a 33 volume Swedish history. In 1688 appointed historian of Duke-Elector of Brandenburg, compiled 19-volume history of life of the Great Elector. Ennobled in 1694 (thus "von Pufendorf"). Died in 1694 in Berlin.

Pufendorf did not come up with the concept of NATURAL LAW, but is regarded her most prominent proponent. Pufendorf distinguishes between divine law, created by God, and human law, enacted by governments, between natural law and positive law, the first being necessary conditions of a peaceful society, the latter expressing the somewhat arbitrary will of the government. According to Pufendorf, natural law has her foundation in human nature, in man becessarily forming a part of society, and in man having the tendency to violate social order.

List of publications

1660 . . Elementorum iurisprudentiae universalis (Of elements of universal jurisprudence)
1663 . . De obligatione Patriam (Of Obligations to the Fatherland)
1663 . . De rebus gestis Philippi Augustae (Life and Deeds of Philip August)
1666 . . De statu imperii Germanici (Of the State of the German Empire) (published in Amsterdam in 1669)
1672 . . De jure naturae et gentium (Of Natural Law and the Law of Nations)
1677 . . De officio hominis et civis juxta legem naturalem libri duo (Of the Office of Man and Citizen toward Natural Law, Book Two)

In De Statu Imperii Germanici (1666/1669) he pointed out that the Holy Roman Empire did not fit the comparison to any Aristotelian definition of state and rather was a confederation of independent states. The book was forbidden in Germany and only published in Amsterdam in 1669.

Article Samuel von Pufendorf, from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Article Samuel Pufendorf, from Rasscass Biographie, in German
Timeline Samuel von Pufendorf, from, in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 11th 2003, last revised on November 14th 2004

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