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Ferdinand Tönnies, Community and Society (1887). Preface to the 2nd edition (1912)

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The “Restoration of the Science of the State” – to subsume the historical school of jurisprudence under this title – sought to do away with natural law, and here especially with the rational, individualistic construction of the state (through contract theories). It succeeded in doing so, especially insofar as the public, “academic” profession of such doctrines is concerned. At least that is the case in Germany, for in England the theory of legislation and of analytic jurisprudence in Bentham and Austin reconnected deliberately with Thomas Hobbes. In the Romance countries, in Russia, and in America, natural law remained more or less in force as a liberal legal philosophy.

In the meantime, legal philosophy was not completely neglected in Germany either, no matter how much it receded into the background as an academic discipline. Like the historical school, which was introduced by the skeptic Hugo and the Catholic Savigny, by way of the Romantics, the Protestant-conservative system of Stahl, a Jew by birth, also picked up on Schelling's natural philosophy, which was originally pantheistic and then became increasingly fanciful. The legal philosophy of Kraus and his successful disciple Ahrens was also pantheistic, though with more humanitarian, cosmopolitan, and Freemasonic tendencies.

A much earlier and more powerful effect, however, at least in continuing and refashioning Schelling’s ideas, had come from Hegel's philosophy, which seeks to develop within natural law (first in 1820) the nature of the objective spirit, as it establishes in law, by means of free will, its abstract object and rises to the level of ethics, whose idea finds its realization in the state.

What was important about this system was that it also – indeed, primarily – sought to conceptualize modern social entities – society and the state – as mental and spiritual-natural [geistig-natürlich], that is, as necessary, instead of dismissing them as being based merely on theoretical fallacies, which was the essential approach in Romanticism and historical jurisprudence, and in all restorationist and reactionary thinking. By contrast, in Hegel's conceptual universe – the references to “world history” notwithstanding – all historical knowledge, like all theory of the true relationship between individual will and social circles, is eradicated. – Hegel's philosophy of law is not merely an account of the state, it is no less than its glorification, and the state that realizes the ethical idea is to him the true state, the Prussian state of the restoration period, which is not able, in the end, to completely deny its radical past. Hegel's doctrine of the state is as ambiguous as this conservative absolutism, and its ambiguousness came to light when it was put into practice. The Hegelian Left led from absolutist-privy councilor liberalism to democratic liberalism and beyond, though it had no academic impact.

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