Rechtsphilosophie und Jurisprudenz

Arnold Gysin

Arnold Gysin, Rechtsphilosophie und Jurisprudenz, Zürich: Girsberger & Co., 1927, 54 pp. (auch in: Rechts­philosophie und Grundlagen des Privat­rechts – Begegnung mit gros­sen Juristen (Juristische Abhandlungen, vol. 9), Frank­furt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1969, pp. 5-47).

Introduction / Historical Situation and Systematic Context

Arnold Gysin intended originally to promote at the University of Berne with a legal philosophical thesis with Eugen Huber; however, the latter delegated him to his younger colleague Walther Burckhardt who remained his mentor until his death (“Die Lehre vom Naturrecht bei Leonhard Nelson und das Natur­recht der Aufklärung”). The interest of Gysin has been directed toward the critique of jurisprudence as it had been addressed by Leonard Nelson, who originated from Low-Saxony and represented a key figure in the domain of German legal thought (please consult his well-known principal writing: Die Rechtswissenschaft ohne Recht – Kritische Betrachtungen über die Grundlagen des Staats- und Völkerrechts, insbesondere über die Lehre von der Souveränität, Leipzig: Veit & Comp., 1917). Nelson is principally associated with the Kantian and therefore idealistic current within legal philosophy, however he stands for a third orientation, going back to the Immanuel Kant-scholar Jakob Friedrich Fries. These relations turned out to be very important in order to understand the general attitude of Gysin toward jurisprudence and legal philosophy.

Jakob Friedrich Fries (refugeed in Switzerland during the so-called Helvetik period) distinguished apprehension radically from reason, and thereby he criticised the critique of reason and cognition, as it had been established by Immanuel Kant. In the understanding of Fries, reason was not to be considered as lucid and enlightened but as dark, turbid and partially unconscious. Based on such concrete insights, philosophy has to build a system of metaphysics by reflecting these pieces of conscious reason and to identify principles. Such a critique of reason is grounded in psychological analysis, i.e. the psychological approach is integrated into theoretical philosophy. Generally, reason is only to be considered as conscious, where it is accompanied by concrete application and illustrated by conception or perception. Fries had Carl Gustav Jung among his students at the University of Jena, the grandfather of the psycho-analyst with the very same name; the family Jung had to emigrate to Switzerland, and Jung was asked to re-organise the Faculty of medicine at the University of Basel, recommended by Alexander von Humboldt.

The basic conviction of Jakob Friedrich Fries lies in the systematics of legal philosophy. Every philosophical reflection is declared to be natural law in effect, and therefore a philosophical enlightened jurisprudence equals a critique of positive legal order. Critisism, however, is also addressed to natural law theory, and the general intention consists in founding a renewed natural law theory, in consequence. These thoughts show already in the title of the principal writing in case: “Philosophische Rechtslehre und Kritik aller positiven Gesetzgebung, mit Beleuchtung der gewöhnlichen Fehler in der Bearbeitung des Naturrechts” (Jena: Johann Michael Mauke, 1803; reprint in: Sämtliche Schriften, vol. 9: Schriften zur angewandten Philosophie, vol. 1, Aalen: Scientia, 1971). This work is highly recommended for further reading…

Leonard Nelson had been attracted by the so-called Fries school early in his career and decidedly defended the philosophical character of the practical philosophical applications of the psychological inclined theory of cognition. In constant dispute and controversy with the rich number of Fries scholars, representing the savant intelligence of his time, Nelson proposed an application of the moral philosophy to legal thought. As a communist, converted to a socialist or sociodemocratic Nelson established on the basis of this philosophical orientation a profoundly cardinal and categoric criticism of virtually all currents of legal thought. And his critique mainly of positivistic inclinations was heard and discussed vividly in his time. We do not consider as Nelson’s principal writing his polemic, yet militant “Jurisprudence Without Law”, but rather his extended and comprehensive “System der philosophischen Rechtslehre und Politik“ (the 3rd vol. of: Vorlesungen über die Grundlagen der Ethik, Leipzig: Peter Reinhold, 1924), a book that is recommend for further reading.

Let us briefly reconsider the practical philosophical background of this critique that has his foundations in a certain view of ethical and moral claims. This connection and intimate relation are founded in natural law theory, now gently modernised and not practised in the old school manner. The intention is to direct normative claims of all kinds toward a material and value based normative theory that includes the legal order as well as the Kantian moral law (“Sittengesetz” or “Moralgesetz”). Thereby duty-based normative theory is complemented by a novel value-based normative order. This approach, however, does not directly lead to the so-called “materiale Wert-Ethik” by Max Scheler or Nicolai Hartmann, but rather to a revival of natural law theory, which is highly problematic in terms of the heritage of Kantianism as philosophical modernism (and ultimately on a basis of protestant ethics).

Content, Abstracts/Conclusions, Insights, Evidence

As an introduction to his volumes containing essays in legal philosophy, Arnold Gysin places his view about how legal philosophy and jurisprudence are to be separated and related. He examines the binding force of law, the validity and effectiveness of the legal order and states these questions to be as of merely methodological character. Already this declared approach prohibits a true philosophical determination of the relation and proportion of the two disciplines in case, however. With reference to Julius Bergbohm (“Jurisprudenz und Rechtsphilosophie – Kritische Abhandlungen, vol. 1: Das Naturrecht der Gegenwart”, Leipzig 1892; reprint 1973), dualism is held as unavoidable: “Bergbohm zeigt, dass jeder Versuch, rechtsphilosophisches und juristisches Denken miteinander zu vereinen, zu einem unerträglichen Dualismus führe. Der Dualismus wurzelt in der Verbindlichkeit des Rechts. Im Wesen eines jedes Rechts nämlich liegt es, schlechthin und ohne jede Einschränkung verbindlich zu sein. Das heisst, die Verbindlichkeit einer Anforderungen kann nicht geleugnet werden, ohne dass zugleich ihr Rechtscharakter bestritten wird”. In consequence, legal philosophy should be excluded from the scientific disciplines. Contrarily, legal philosophy itself stands for legal principles and claims the legal order to be founded in light of these principles. The concurring position is attributed to Rudolf Laun (“Recht und Sittlichkeit”, Hamburg: Julius Springer, 2nd ed. 1927; 3rd ed. 1935). As a mediating position, Max Salomon’s “Grundlegung zur Rechtsphilosophie” (Berlin, 2nd ed. 1925) is presented as a salomonic justice. However, such an intermediate position is not considered to be a lasting determination of the relation between the two disciplines. The Hegelian approach of resolution of the conflict is refused by Gysin and commented with the following words, that prove the misunderstanding instead of founding his rejection: “Der Konflikt ist jetzt beseitigt! Die Rechtsphilosophie hat sich als legitimen Trabanten der Jurisprudenz erkannt. Sie schreibt fortan ihre Lehre für die Jurisprudenz und entnimmt ihre Weisheit der positiven Doktrin”. With his argumentation, Gysin abolishes empirical and materialistic conceptions of the co-ordination of legal philosophy and jurisprudence, and with this he also refers to the abnegation by Rudolf Stammler who is held to be the leading representative of legal thought in that time. The cultural philosophical approach is also discredited: “Entweder, das Recht ist begrifflich als ‘Selbstzweck’, als unbedingt verbindliches Sollen zu betrachten. Oder es ist ein Mittel zum Zweck (beziehungsweise ein bedingtes Element in einem übergeordneten Ganzen)”. By this juxtaposition, Gysin excludes all third and fourth possibilities.

Legal philosophy states justice as the fundamental value to be followed by jurisprudence. The crucial question is addressed by Arnold Gysin as follows: “Soll die Jurisprudenz an dieser zwingenden Erkenntnis ihren Willen brechen? Soll sie das Feld ihres bisherigen Wirkens als ein verlorenes Gebiet verlassen, um zur angewandten Rechtsphilosophie, zur angewandten Gerechtigkeitslehre überzugehen? [...] Muss die Jurisprudenz eines Tages verschwinden? Ist sie vor dem Richterstuhl der Erkenntnis ein verlorener Posten? Ist sie dazu verurteilt, im Fortschreiten des objektiven Denkens schliesslich als Normlehre beseitigt zu werden?” The solution to this problem seems to consist in determining jurisprudence as a positive science of normative principles, leading to an acceptance of the positivist character of the legal order, i.e. of empirical effectiveness. “Das Rechtskriterium der Jurisprudenz hat die Form einer willkürlichen (das heisst durch Willensakt gesetzten) Hypothese. [...] Sie ist das Dogma der durchgreifenden Verbindlichkeit der nach dem Positivitätskriterium ermittelten Regeln. [...] Sie folgt unmittelbar aus dem prinzipiellen Verhältnis von Sein und Sollen einerseits und aus dem Begriffe der Jurisprudenz als einer positiven Normwissenschaft”. This necessarily leads to the separation of a true philosophical discipline on the one hand and a merely dogmatical scientific treatment of the legal order on the other hand. The Neo-Positivist solution adopted by Hans Kelsen is also rejected by Gysin. It remains eventually a position with principally no positive content, as only criticism is addressed to all currents, without presenting an alternative. The declaration that both, legal philosophy and jurisprudence are summarised by the entity and unity of the ethical and moral order evokes natural law theory in its mode held by catholic and Scholastic social doctrine. “Sie nehmen ihren Ursprung aus dem einen Grundgesetze – aus der äusseren Anwendungsform des Sittengesetzes. Und deshalb sind sie bleibend auf einander angewiesen: Die Rechtsphilosophie vermittelt der Jurisprudenz ihr Selbstbewusstsein und ihre Selbstbeschränkung. Sie aber kann ihrerseits die Verwirklichung des letzten Ziels nicht ohne die Hilfe der Jurisprudenz erwarten”. This conclusion, however, is no conclusion ever, in fact.

These arguments have to be completed by those put forward by Arnold Gysin in two other essays, entitled “Naturrecht und Positivität des Rechts”, and “Philosophische Grundlage der Naturrechtslehre und des Rechtspositivismus”, respectively, that can be considered as a trilogy of fundamental essays (se nos. 2.3a and 2.3b), all together trying to revitalise natural law theory in order to overcome predomination positivism, however not in a catholic or Scholastic tradition, but on the basis of modified Kantianism and Fichteanism (whereas in Jakob Friedrich Fries reason is routed in the un-conscious, in Johann Gottlieb Fichte critical cognition is founded in self-consciousness).

Further Information About the Author

Arnold Gysin, born 29 August 1897 in Basel, died 13 October 1980 in Lucerne, obtained his doctorate in 1923 at the University of Berne, before practicing as a lawyer in Zurich and Lucerne. From 1924 to 1934 he was a private lecturer at the University of Basel. Between 1952 and 1968 he was a federal judge at the insurance court, in the years 1960 and 1961 its president.

Selected Works of the Same Author

Arnold Gysin: Die Lehre vom Naturrecht bei Leonhard Nelson und das Natur­recht der Aufklärung (Dissertation Universität Bern 1924, bei Walther Burckhardt), Berlin- Grunewald: Walther Rothschild, 1924, 139 pp.; Idem: Rechtsphilosophie und Jurisprudenz, Zürich: Girsberger & Co., 1927, 54 pp.; Idem: Recht und Kultur auf dem Grunde der Ethik, Zürich: Girs­ber­ger & Co., 1929, 48 pp.; Idem: Ungeschriebenes Gesetz und Rechts­ordnung – Mit Gedanken zur Rechtsphilosophie von Jakob F. Fries und Leonhard Nelson, in: Festschrift für Fritz von Hippel zum 70. Geburts­tag, ed. Josef Esser and Hans Thieme, Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1967; Idem: Rechtsgedanke und Kultur­gedanke im Ver­hältnis von Gesetzesethik und Wertethik; Idem: Die philoso­phischen Grundlagen der Naturrechtslehre und des Rechtspositivismus, beide in: Rechts­philosophie und Grundlagen des Privat­rechts – Begegnung mit gros­sen Juristen (Juristische Abhandlungen, vol. 9), Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1969; Idem: Zur rechtstheo­retischen Vermächtnis Walther Burckhardts, in: Zeit­schrift des Bernischen Juristen-Vereins, vol. 107 (1971), pp. 23 ss.; Idem: Bindung und Offenheit des Rechts in rechtsphilosophischer Sicht, in: Homo Creator, Festschrift für Alois Troller, ed. Paul Brügger, Basel: Hel­bing & Lichten­hahn, 1976, pp. 303 ss.

For Further Reading

Jakob Friedrich Fries: Philosophische Rechtslehre und Kritik aller positiven Gesetzgebung, Jena: Johann Michael Mauke, 1803 (reprint in: Sämtliche Schriften, vol. 9: Schriften zur angewandten Philosophie, vol. 1, Aalen: Scientia, 1971);

Arnold Gysin: Rechts­philosophie und Grundlagen des Privat­rechts – Begegnung mit gros­sen Juristen (Juristische Abhandlungen, vol. 9), Frank­furt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1969;

Leonard Nelson: Die Rechtswissenschaft ohne Recht – Kritische Betrachtungen über die Grundlagen des Staats- und Völkerrechts, insbesondere über die Lehre von der Souveränität, Leipzig: Veit & Comp., 1917 (2nd ed. Göttingen/ Hamburg: Öffentliches Leben, 1949); Idem: Vorlesungen über die Grundlagen der Ethik, Band 3: System der philosophischen Rechtslehre und Politik, Leipzig: Peter Reinhold, 1924.