Über die Realien der Gesetz­gebung

Eugen Huber

Eugen Huber, Über die Realien der Gesetz­gebung, in: Zeitschrift für Rechtsphilo­sophie in Lehre und Praxis, hrsg. von Felix Holldack, Rudolf Joergens und Rudolf Stammler, Leipzig: Felix Meiner, 1913, S. 39ff.

Introduction/Historical Situation and Systematic Context

 Reflection about the realities in the course of legislation have also been extensively treaded by Eugen Huber in his later major writing entitled “Recht und Rechtsverwirklichung” (see no. 1.1 of this Legal Anthology). However, the article, the essay in case indicates the veritable locus classicus of the fundamental ideas on “Realien der Gesetzgebung”, and above all must have had a great influence on legal thought across Europe because of the widespread journal, where they have been printed for the first time, i.e. the well-known “Zeitschrift für Rechtsphilosophie in Lehre und Praxis”, edited by Rudolf Stammler among other editors. The title of this periodical sounds like it could be the motto of Huber’s legal philosophical thought, that is intended to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Concerning the greater context of the particular questions addressed by Eugen Huber in this article, please consult the introduction to the principal monography “Recht und Rechtsverwirklichung”, where the arguments discussed above have been introduced without considerable alterations (pp. 281 to 336).

Content, Abstracts/Conclusions, Insights, Evidence

Apart from custom law, there are multiple facts and realities to be taken into consideration by the legislator as well as jurisprudence, when they realise the idea of law by objectivise this ideal within the legal order:

1st In the human being, considered as an individual consists the primary reality for any legislation. This requirement founds a deeply human, humanistic approach to legal order, indeed. Human existence is not dominated by psychology in the first place, but rather by conceptions of human life, by the social inclination of the individual that founds communities of all kinds, and last but not least by ethics and religion. By doing so the individuality is acknowledged.

2nd The so-called natural facts can directly influence legislation, as it is proved by the verbalism “the nature of things”. These conditions consist in the economic situation, the circumstances of work and labour, the technical constellation, and so on. Generally speaking, these are anthropological structures to be accepted in a major or minor extent.

3rd Pre-existing legal order is often forgotten as a reality of fact, as human community is always structured and ordered in a certain way or the other. This seems to be obvious, however it has to be taken seriously, as even the very first legislation must have had a previous one, according to the insight, that every state of development of human community has its own law. The existing legal order has to be studied and reflected in an exhaustive manner in order to understand its concepts and institutions thoroughly. This task is of particular importance when it comes to unifying several pre-existing legal orders to a new one with greater outreach, i.e. in the process of codification. “Es handelt sich hier überall insofern um Realien, als der überlieferte Zustand durch die anderen Realien gefordert und von ihnen getragen ist (“Recht und Rechtsverwirklichung”, p. 232). That does not mean that given situations and circumstances cannot and should not be altered, but only that the tension between the demands of a time and the legally founded claims of the future legal order have to be taken in earnest consideration. Such reflections can lead to a reduced attempt of modernisation and prove the respect for approved solutions to everlasting problems. More over, this reality is considered to be a process: “Mag auch noch so sehr jede Änderung in der Rechtsordnung unter der Idee einer Verbesserung geboren sein, so ist sie doch, sobald sie konkrete Gestalt annimmt, wiederum ihrerseits der Beurteilung nach der Idee unterworfen, und daraus ergibt sich eine Anlehnung oder Prüfung nach Altem und Neuem, die ganz notwendig den bestehenden Rechtszustand als ein Reale der Gesetzgebung erscheinen lässt”

All these realities can be considered under the aspect of motivation, formalisation or realisation. “Die instinktive Motivierung verbindet sich mit der primitiven Formulierung und der intuitiven Realisierung, und dasselbe geschieht mit den übrigen hervorgebrachten Momente, so dass zusammenfassend typisch von einer instinktiv-primitiv-intuitiven, einer autoritativ- schablonenhaft-formalistischen, oder endlich einer organisch-spekulativ-intellektuellen Gestalt der Rechtsordnung gesprochen werden kann”. It is all too obvious that Eugen Huber himself was ambitious enough to intend the last modality of legislation when he projected the Swiss Civil Code. It is noteworthy that, in the course of legislation and jurisdiction, they build a system of constraints, even if they differ from mere circumstances, preferences or needs. They are necessary to the concept of law, as well as the idea of law: “Es gibt Momente, mit denen die Gesetzgebung sich jederzeit abfinden muss, die also für die Gesetzgebung so notwendig sind, wie die Idee des Rechts selber” (“Recht und Rechtswirklichkeit”, p. 283). Eventually legislation is not a reality, but a task, a work to be done in practice by the legislator.

Further Information About the Author

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 the ground 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 1892 when 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 was soon given 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 Same 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: Recht und Rechtsverwirklichung – Probleme der Gesetzgebung und der Rechtsphilosophie, Basel: Helbing & Lichtenhahn, 1920; 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.

For Further Reading

Eugen Huber: Recht und Rechtsverwirklichung – Probleme der Gesetzgebung und der Rechtsphilosophie, Basel: Helbing & Lichtenhahn, 1920;

Alois Troller: Eugen Hubers Allgemeingültige Rechtsphilosophie, in: Gedächtnisschrift für Peter Jäggi, ed. Bernhard Schneider and Peter Gauch, Freiburg im Üechtland: Universitätsverlag, 1977.


You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here: Huber Realien in der Gesetzgebung.