Eugen Huber

Eugen Huber

Eugen Huber, born 13 July 1849 in Oberstammheim, died 23 April 1923 in Berne, followed (among others) the lectures of Rudolf von Ihering at the University of Vienna during his studies. Rudolf Stammler and Max von Rümelin were counted among his friends.

In 1881 he was named professor of federal law, civil law and legal history at the University of Basel. He was asked by the “Schweizerischer Juristenverein” to develop an overview over the legal order of the 25 Swiss cantons in order to establish grounds for the unification of Swiss civil law, a duty he was prepared to fulfil in excellence, which is proved by the four volumes of “System und Geschichte des schweizerischen Privatrechts” (1886-1893). As a historian, he collected a variety and peculiarites of the specific Swiss common law, that characterised the legal order of the Swiss federal state. As the very basis of the unification and codification of Swiss civil law, he identified the collective Swiss public spirit (the so-called “Volksgeist”), an idea that resembles more the public consciousness or common sense for the law.

Between 1882 and 1892, he taught commercial law and German public law at the University of Halle an der Saale.

It was only in 1892 that he was called back to Switzerland to take the ordinary chair for civil law, legal history and philosophy of law at the University of Berne. From the Swiss Federal Government, he soon got the task to prepare the codification of Swiss civil law and developed a proposal for the later “Schweizerisches Zivilgesetzbuch” (1900). By an intelligent combination of existing traditions and modern innovations he succeeded in a reconstruction of the hidden common understanding of Swiss private Law. His proposal found approbation in 1907 and gained validity in 1912.

In retrospective, he completed his philosophically informed views of law only in his later period of life. In his groundbreaking and masterful work on “Recht und Rechtsverwirk­lichung”, he identified jurisprudence as a contributor to the cognition and perception of the law, according to the Kantian criticism in epistemology. Courts and judges are an integrative part of the finding of the law, and their interpretations of the common law serve as a veritable source of law.

In 1922 his last work on legal philosophy appeared, devoted to the “Absolute im Recht”, where he claimed that the ideal of the law is based on the common sentiment or the common sense of the law. However, this was not meant to be an unaltered idealistic legal theory, but rather intended to establish a ground of positive law and its tendency to realise the eternal idea of law. Therefore, the ideal has to be proved by the reality of sociocultural legal practice.

For further information, please consult:

Theo Guhl: Eugen Huber, in: Schweizer Juristen der letzten hundert Jahre, mit einem Vorwort von Max Huber, mit einer historischen Einleitung von Eduard His, ed. Hans Schulthess, Schulthess & Co. A.-G., Zürich 1945, pp. 323ff.;

Dominique Manaï: Eugen Huber – Jurisconsulte charismatique, Basel/ Frankfurt am Main: Helbing & Lichtenhahn, 1990;

Max Rümelin: Eugen Huber, Rede gehalten bei der akademischen Preisverteilung am 6. November 1923, Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1923;

Aloïs Troller: Eugen Hubers Allgemeingültige Rechtsphilosophie, in: Gedächtnisschrift für Peter Jäggi, ed. Bernhard Schneider and Peter Gauch, Universitätsverlag Freiburg Schweiz 1977;

Fritz Wartenweiler: Eugen Huber – Der Lehrer, Gesetzgeber, Mensch, Zürich/ Leipzig: Rotapfel-Verlag 1923.

Selected Works of the Author

Eugen Huber: Erläuterungen zum Vorentwurf eines Schweizerischen Civilgesetz­buchs, Bern: Büchler & Co., 1902 (pp. 1-39); Idem: Das Absolute im Recht – Schema­tischer Aufbau einer Rechtsphiloso­phie, in: Festgabe der juris­tischen Fakul­tät der Berner Hochschule zur Jahresversammlung des Schwei­ze­rischen Juristen­vereins von 1922, Bern: Stämpfli & Cie. AG, 1922; Idem: Über die Realien der Gesetz­gebung, in: Zeitschrift für Rechtsphilo­sophie in Lehre und Praxis, ed. Felix Holldack, Rudolf Joergens and Rudolf Stammler, Leipzig: Felix Meiner, 1913, pp. 39ss.; Idem: Bewährte Lehre – Eine Betrach­tung über die Wissen­schaft als Rechtsquelle, Bern: K. J. Wyss, 1910.