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The Whole Duty of Man, According to the Law of Nature (Natural Law and Enlightenment Classics)by Samuel Pufendorf
Synopses & Reviews
Samuel Pufendorf's seminal work, The Whole Duty of Man, According to the Law of Nature (first published in Latin in 1673), was among the first to suggest a purely conventional basis for natural law. Rejecting scholasticisms metaphysical theories, Pufendorf found the source of natural law in humanitys need to cultivate sociability. At the same time, he distanced himself from Hobbess deduction of such needs from self-interest. The result was a sophisticated theory of the conventional character of mans social persona and of all political institutions.
Pufendorf wrote this work to make his insights accessible to a wide range of readers, especially university students. As ministers, teachers, and public servants, they would have to struggle with issues of sovereignty and of the relationship between church and state that dominated the new state system of Europe in the aftermath of the Peace of Westphalia (1648).
The Whole Duty was first translated into English in 1691. The fourth edition was significantly revised—by anonymous editors—to include a great deal of the very important editorial material from Jean Barbeyracs French editions. This was reproduced in the fifth edition from 1735 that is republished here. The English translation provides a fascinating insight into the transplantation of Pufendorfs political theory from a German absolutist milieu to an English parliamentarian one.
Samuel Pufendorf (16321694) was one of the most important figures in early-modern political thought. An exact contemporary of Locke and Spinoza, he transformed the natural law theories of Grotius and Hobbes, developed striking ideas of toleration and of the relationship between church and state, and wrote extensive political histories and analyses of the constitution of the German empire.
Jean Barbeyrac (16741744) was a Huguenot refugee who taught natural law successively in Berlin, Lausanne, and Amsterdam, and edited and translated into French the major natural law works of Grotius, Pufendorf, and Cumberland.
Andrew Tooke (16731732) was headmaster of Chaterhouse School and professor of geometry at Gresham College, London.
Ian Hunter is Australian Professorial Fellow in the Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of Queensland.
David Saunders is Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Arts at Griffith University.
Knud Haakonssen is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Sussex, England.
Book News Annotation:
This reprint of the 1735 translated edition of the 1691 work De officio hominis et civis, in which the author expounds on his system of political ethics, adds three commentary essays by 18th-century political philosopher Jean Barbeyrac. Barbeyrac supports Pufendorf's belief that political ethics should be based on humans' need for sociability, rather than on any religious prescriptions. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This scholarly edition of Samuel Pufendorf's seminal work suggests a purely conventional basis for natural law. It outlines a new understanding of ethics and politics, one suited to states that were emerging from the aftermath of religious civil war.
This new scholarly edition of Samuel Pufendorf's seminal The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature is among the first to suggest a purely conventional basis for natural law.
Pufendorf wrote this work to make his insights accessible to a wide range of readers, especially university students, who were struggling with issues of church and state. Although indebted to Hobbes and Grotius, the work outlines a new understanding of ethics and politics, one suited to states that were emerging from the aftermath of religious civil war.
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