Über soziale Gesinnung

Eugen Huber

Eugen Huber, Über soziale Gesinnung, in: Politisches Jahr­buch der schwei­­ze­­rischen Eid­ge­nossenschaft, ed. Walther Burckhardt, vol. 16 (1912), Bern: K. J. Wyss, 1912, 69 pp.

Introduction

In his magistral principal writing from 1922, “Recht und Rechtsverwirklichung”, Eugen Huber referred to a specific concept of legal community, as he had worked out ten years earlier in an essay for the “Political Yearbook of Switzerland”, entitled “Über soziale Gesinnung”. The term ‘Gesinnung’ is slightly old-fashioned and has to be gently modernised to ‘Bewusstsein’, so that the subject of this essay could be circumscribed as “On social consciousness” or extended as “On the Self-Consciousness of Social and Legal Community”. That would very precisely correspond to the argumentation developed by Huber: “Es handelt sich für uns demnach um eine wissenschaftliche Orientierung über das Wesen des sozialen Elementes in der menschlichen Gemeinschaft”. (As for the general context and specific embedment of the argument in the principal work of legal philosophy of the same author, please refer to no. 1.1 of this Legal Anthology.)

Content, Abstracts/Conclusions, Insights, Evidence

Society means rather community, social and legal community, as the human being is a thoroughly social animal. This confession indicates the social inclination of the general attitude of Eugen Huber, based on his ethical and religious convictions. This very ancient idea and ideal are transposed by Huber in modern times, and are to be characterised by technical inventions, growing realism, and increasing socialism due to the so-called social question (“soziale Frage”). The analysis of his time by the author provides an according diagnosis of the social circumstances. “Bei der Betrachtung des geselligen Lebens halten wir uns nun gerade an diesen einen, aber grundlegenden Faktor, an die Gesinnung. Wir lassen mithin alles, was der objektiven sozialen Ordnung angehört, als in irgend einer Art gegeben und bekannt, unberührt. [...] Die Gesinnung mit Hinblick auf das Gemeinschaftsleben, die bald richtig, bald unrichtig sein kann, immer aber jene Qualitäten aufweisen wird, die wir, als mit der Gesinnung in sozialer Hinsicht notwendig verknüpft, des näheren untersuchen werden”. In itself the allusion to ‘Gesinnung’ is highly problematic, but it seems that this should only emphasise the subjective aspect and exclude the objectivated social organisation and institutions. The investigations of the author are not sociological, strictly speaking, but rather psychological or socio-philosophical, depending on their foundation.

We shall skip the preliminary definitions and directly consider the relation and interdependence of subjective consciousness and objective life of will, between the individual and collective moment within this connection. “Das Bewusstsein seiner selbst [sic!] und der Gemeinschaft verschafft jedem Einzelnen ein Urteil über die Individual- und die Kollektivexistenz. Aus dem Urteil erwachsen Willensimpulse, und aus dem Willen springt die Tat hervor. Das Bewusstsein führt also den Einzelnen zur Betätigung in der Gemeinschaft und stellt das tätige Zusammenwirken aller Verbundenen her. Was in dieser Betätigung äusserlich hergestellt wird, ist die Frucht der übereinstimmenden Anlage zum geselligen Leben”. This inclination of the individual to live together with his fellow man within a social community is considered in a way that anticipates social psychology. “Die Gesinnung begleitet auf dem Fundament des Bewusstseins die Handlungen des Menschen, wie auf dem Boden der physischen Existenz der Herzschlag das körperliche Leben”. ‘Gesinnung’ turns out to be a complement to cognition, as it stands not for the receptive aspect, but rather for the active moment within the life of the will, that can be individual or collective. “So lernen wir in der Gesinnung die Grundstimmung kennen, mit der das menschliche Bewusstsein die Zweckmässigkeitshandlungen des Menschen begleitet, und unter der sozialen Gesinnung verstehen wir diese Grundstimmung in ihrer mit der menschlichen Gemeinschaft gegebenen, auf das Verhältnis zwischen Individualmoment und Kollektivmoment bezogenen Richtung”.

These moments are not to be considered as elements or components, rather than an intrinsic unity. Eugen Huber states, that the individual should form his will, and make his decisions upon rational consciousness: “Die soziale Gesinnung stammt aus dem vernünftigen Bewusstsein, und das bedeutet eine vernünftige Beurteilung der Dinge”. It is not evident, however, if this concept should encourage individual activities or temper collective pretensions. Ultimately, Huber defends individuality as a convinced representative and advocate of the social and state collective, and this mismatch cannot avoid the production of a number of strange ambiguities. This inconsistency is bridged precariously by pretending a parallelism or synchronism: “Wer die persönlichen Interessen und Bedürfnisse nicht als des Lebens Hauptzweck betrachtet, der wird um so mehr geneigt sein, sich in der Anteilnahme am Leben der Welt nach den Postulaten der sozialen Gesinnung zu richten”.

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 called professor for federal law, civil law and legal history at the University of Basel. He was asked by the “Schweizerischer Juristenverein” to develop an overview of the legal order of the 25 Swiss cantons in order to establish the 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 the variety and peculiarities 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.

Only in 1892 was he 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 retrospect he completed his philosophically informed views of law only in the later period of his life. In his ground-breaking 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 socio-cultural 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.

Text

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