Leibniz, Nova methodus discendae docendaeque jurisprudentiae – new translation from Talbot Publishing

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz is nowadays best remembered as an inventor of calculus (in rivalry with Isaac Newton) and as the man lampooned by Voltaire as Pangloss. But of course, there was much more to him than that. He deserves further study.
Your blogger has visited the charming university buildings at Altdorf near Nuremberg where Leibniz gained his doctorate in law (and where Hugues Doneau had earlier taught); he has also explored some of Leibniz’s correspondence with Alexander Cunningham, a Scots scholar, involving kind and energetic assistance from the Leibniz Archive in Hanover. Cunningham spent much of his life working on an unfinished new edition of the Digest; this was a topic of interest to the German polymath – hence their correspondence. But it also indicates the importance of law to Leibniz, an importance often overlooked and perhaps overshadowed by his other achievements as mathematician and philosopher. His very definition of justice as the “charity of the wise” is novel and unique, suggesting the interest in his works on law, and the depths of Leibniz as an original thinker.
In 1667, a year after Leibniz gained his doctorate, he published his Nova methodus discendae docendaeque jurisprudentiae, which he dedicated to the Elector of Mainz – an ambitious work for a newly fledged jurist. The aim of the book was practical. It also contained an important essay on the law of nature. This discussion is still important. Leibniz reflected on the various and conflicting understandings of natural law in the ancient world, while also engaging in an anlysis of modern scholars, most notably Grotius and Hobbes. This is not the place to explore in detail this important work; but it is an interesting exemplar of a rationalist approach, in which, for example, he calls for a logical restructuring of the Corpus iuris (which explains his interest in the work of Cunningham) as well as for a revision of legal education.
Of course, the second half of the seventeenth century saw a considerable amount of discussion of the teaching of law, with new subjects introduced into legal education, such as the law of nature and nations, and new methods, such as the methodus compendiaria. This means that it is important that we contextualize Leibniz’s work as a work on legal education as well as reflecting on it as an exemplar of his legal thought. This means it is necessary to compare it with other contemporary works on the method of legal education, such as Ulric Huber’s famous dialogue of 1684, De ratione juris docendi & discendi diatribe, recently translated by Margaret Hewett (Nijmegen 2010). After all, the theme is hardly original; what is original is the treatment.
In 2014, Professor Matthias Armgardt of Konstanz, the noted expert on Leibniz’s legal philosophy, remarked that for proper study of Leibniz’s legal thought, translations were necessary of a number of the great German scholar’s works, including a translation of the Nova methodus; Armgardt noted, however, that this work had very recently been translated into Italian by Carmelo Massimo de Iuliis. The same translator has now produced an English version of the 1667 Frankfurt edition of the Nova methodus with notes and an introduction. For all interested in thinking about legal education and legal study in the Baroque age, this will be an invaluable publication, making more accessible the thoughts—if youthful—of an intellectual giant of the age. The volume contains a useful introduction to Leibniz, as well as annotations. The distinguished comparatist, William E. Butler of Pennsylvania State, best known for his work on the Soviet Union and Russia, has provided a preface.
While the Nova methodus is readily available in Latin in libraries or on the internet, the new translation will hopefully encourage greater engagement with Leibniz’s legal work in the Anglophone world. The days where proper study can be expected of works in Latin is passing. This translation should make it easier both to place the Nova methodus contextually in a consideration of legal education in Europe and to assess its impact.
The new translation has been published by Talbot Publishing, an imprint of the Lawbook Exchange, at what is now a very modest cost for a hardback book: $85.00 (ISBN 978-1-61619-547-2). This must encourage further study of this important figure in the world of English-language scholarship.

 

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Legal History Event – Glasgow

From our colleagues in Glasgow, notice of the following event:

On 17 March 2017 at 5.00 pm, Lucinda Kirby of the University of Liverpool, presently holding the post of Alan Rodger Postgraduate Visiting Researcher at the University of Glasgow, will speak on:

Public doctors and the law in fourth century Egypt

The event will take place in room 207, 10 The Square, University Avenue, The University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ. All are welcome.

If you wish to attend the dinner afterwards, please reply to Prof E. Metzger as soon as possible, at ernest.metzger@glasgow.ac.uk.

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Stair Society Bursary, 2017-2018

For the academic year 2017–18, the Stair Society, Scotland’s leading legal history society, will offer one or more one-year bursaries of £1,000 to postgraduate students who are enrolled in a Masters or PhD programme and who are preparing a thesis in Scottish legal history, broadly construed. At the time of application eligible postgraduates will be registered at a UK or Irish university. The bursary may be used for subsistence costs, research trips, or to attend conferences.

Applications should be made by 31 March 2017 to the Secretary of the Stair Society, Dr Karen Baston, by email attachment to: stairsociety@gmail.com.

These should include: a) a letter of application setting out the current stage of completion of the thesis, with an appended outline; b) a CV; c) details of any other funding which the candidate is receiving towards their studies; and d) two academic references. Applications should be submitted as a single PDF file.

Candidates will be notified by 30 April of the outcome of their applications, which will be assessed by a panel nominated by the Society’s Council.

The successful applicant will also receive a year’s complimentary membership of the Stair Society, which includes free access to the Society’s publications via HeinOnline and complimentary copies of the Society’s publications issued during the year. Further information about membership is on the membership page of the Society’s website, at http://stairsociety.org/membership. A successful candidate will be required to present a 400-word report to the Council on their year’s progress, covering the use made of the bursary, within two months of the end of the academic year. Successful candidates will also be required to acknowledge the support of the Stair Society in their thesis and in any relevant publication.

From http://stairsociety.org/news/entry/stair_society_bursary_2017_2018

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Winter school in Padua – Roman criminal law

For those wishing to spend a few glorious days in the lovely Padua, herewith a notice on the winter school offered by the University of Padua on Roman criminal law. The cast is truly a stellar one. Details here:LOCANDINA WS 2017-1

 

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Theorizing contacts in the Roman Empire

From our colleagues in Classics, the following conference announcement:

University of Edinburgh, 8-9 December 2017

We live in a multicultural world, in which every community develops in constant interaction with others. A series of theoretical models have been developed to explain these contacts, which in recent years have been utilized to understand the ancient world. In the context of the Roman empire, these theories are typically used to examine the interactions of various indigenous populations with their rulers. These kinds of studies were once grouped under the heading “Romanization”, though the increased questioning of the term’s validity has given rise to a diverse range of alternatives. These are often drawn from modern theoretical backgrounds: multiculturalism and multilingualism are two recent concepts employed in this realm.

The aim of this conference is to assess the validity and scope of a variety of some of these models, with a particular focus on multilingualism and multiculturalism. By promoting and facilitating dialogue between disciplines, we shall aim to provide effective tools for different fields’ approaches in parallel (e.g. historical and linguistic). This has already been done very successfully in a few cases (e.g. ‘code-switching’), though greater interaction remains a desideratum. It is hoped that the participants will thereby open the discussion for a ‘theory of contact’ in the Roman world.

We invite scholars from a range of fields, including epigraphists and papyrologists, philologists, legal historians, and archaeologists to consider if and how the multiculturalism and multilingualismmodels can be applied in the following areas:

· Language: onomastics; ancient bilingualism; language preservation and change.
· Law: the interaction between native and Roman law; issues of status.
· Literature: the response of Roman and Greek authors to “others”.
· Art and visual culture: interactions of Roman and indigenous styles; religious and cult imagery.

Papers that consider the role of the individual within these topics are especially welcome.

Confirmed Speakers: Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (Cambridge), Alex Mullen (Nottingham), Olivia Elder (Cambridge), Christian Djurslev (Edinburgh)

Proposals: We welcome proposals from scholars at any stage of their career. PhD students, early career and independent researchers are highly encouraged to participate.

Papers will be 25 minutes long, followed by 10 minutes of discussion. For your proposals please include title, name(s) of speaker(s), affiliation(s), an abstract of 300 words, and a select bibliography. Please send to roman.contacts@ed.ac.uk.

Posters on particular case-studies or specific concepts will be accommodated in a designated poster session and prizes will be awarded to the three best entries. Proposals for posters should have the same format as that of the papers. Please, use POSTER as the “Subject” of your email.

The deadline for all proposals (papers and posters) is 28th February.

For further information please contact the organizers: Kimberley Czajkowski (k.czajkowski@ed.ac.uk) and/or Andreas Gavrielatos (a.gavrielatos@ed.ac.uk).

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Edinburgh Postgraduate Legal History Conference

Guest blog by Peter Candy

Alongside the legal history session chaired by Ross Macdonald at this year’s Edinburgh Postgraduate Law Conference (for which see here), I also had the pleasure of chairing a second session dedicated to the same discipline. The theme of the conference – ‘Law and its Boundaries’ – was reflected across the four papers which were presented.

Graeme Cunningham (Glasgow), in his paper entitled ‘Law, Rhetoric and Science: Historical Narratives in Roman Law’, demonstrated that in the development of the law surrounding bonorum possessio the praetor was heavily influenced by equitable considerations. By showing the praetor’s susceptibility to rhetorical arguments, Graeme successfully showed the value of a contextual analysis when investigating the development of Roman legal thought.

Jumping forward 1700 years, Franziska Arnold-Dwyer (Queen Mary University of London) delivered a fascinating paper entitled ‘Fraudulent Captains, Gambling Aristocrats and a Transgender Diplomat: A History of the Doctrine of Insurable Interest’. Following Graeme’s lead, Franziska also demonstrated that the doctrine cannot be fully understood without an appreciation of the social and economic context from which it arose. Of particular interest to your blogger was the exploitation of policies requiring no insurable interest on the part of the insured, which were exploited by fraudsters who overvalued cargoes, only to arrange for them to be captured or sunk on the high seas. The practice will remind the classically minded of an episode in Livy (25.3.8-14), in which the Roman state assumed the risk of shipwreck for transports sailing with supplies to Spain during the Second Punic War. Groups of tax-farmers, never missing an opportunity to make a quick buck, repeatedly defrauded the treasury by overvaluing their cargoes and then reporting them lost at sea.

Two final papers were delivered by Ciarán Crowley and Aengus Fallon (University College Dublin). Ciarán, in ‘Censorship of Literature in Ireland lives on, though only just: Thoughts following the Censorship of Publications Bill 2013’, explored the historical origins and continuing impact of the Committee of Evil Literature. The presenter identified the missed opportunity presented by the passage of the 2013 bill, which might have led to the unification of the still-extant Censorship Board of Ireland with the Film Classification Board. Continuing on the theme of Irish legal history, Aengus Fallon discussed the influences on the drafting of key legislation in the Irish Free State between 1922-24. Again, as is evident from all the papers, context triumphed: the exigencies of the rapid creation of a functioning constitutional machinery, coupled with a scarcity of resources (Arthur Matheson, the sole parliamentary drafter at the time, was indefatigable in his task), led to a replication of the Westminster model and a spate of legislative plagiarism.

A debt of gratitude is owed to the session sponsors, the Centre for Legal History, as well as to the Centre’s director, Dr Paul du Plessis, who acted as discussant. Thanks should also be extended to the conference committee for convening the event, and finally to the presenters themselves, for providing such thought-provoking insights into their research.

Peter Candy is a doctoral candidate at Edinburgh Law School.

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Memorial service for Peter Stein

I have been asked to circulate the following information:

“You are warmly invited to attend the Memorial Service for Queens’ Life Fellow Professor Peter Stein (1926 – 2016). The memorial will be held in Great St Mary’s Church at 2pm on Saturday 11th February 2017. All College members are most welcome. If you a University member, please wear a gown. Following the memorial, a reception will be held at Gonville & Caius College.”

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Edinburgh Postgraduate Legal History Conference

Guest blog by Ross Macdonald

Your blogger had the pleasure this week of chairing one of the Legal History sessions at this year’s Edinburgh University Postgraduate Law conference. If there was a common theme linking the two papers, it was “people on the margins”. Keith Ruiter (Aberdeen University) in “Outlawry in Medieval Scandinavia” noted the liminal (both physical and social) status of outlaws pending their possible reintegration into society, the early terminology dehumanising them as “wolves” or the like. Eric Loefflad (Kent) – “A Swiss Jurist on the American Frontier” – stressed the use made in the early US Republic of Emer de Vattel whose treatise partly rested political rights on settled agriculture, thus depriving indigenous people of secure legal status.

Dr Stephen Neff (Edinburgh), the discussant, welcomed Loefflad’s contribution to the growing recent re-evaluation of Vattel as an original thinker straddling the period between earlier natural law scholars (such as Vitoria) and later positivism in a world of nation-states.  But it remains arguable at what level he was actually influential – mainly perhaps at the level of shaping Jefferson’s vision of the Republic. American expansion would happen irrespective; Vattel’s views were just convenient. The subsequent discussion drew analogies to the medieval Crusades (in particular in Spain and the Baltic) where Christian expansion was driven forward without the need for a consistent intellectual justification.

As for Ruiter’s analysis – considering contemporary terminology, derived from early medieval poetry and sagas and later legal texts, to discover how the concept of outlawry may have changed and become more precisely focused on its effect on legal status – there was much for a Scots or comparative legal historian to find familiar and challenging.  While Ruiter drew attention to regional variation within Scandinavia (too often, as he noted, not differentiated) some features appeared in the wider Scotto-Scandinavian area or beyond.  Such as the “thing” or moot hill (Ruiter stressed the role of popular assemblies in enforcing early medieval justice), and places of sanctuary.  There were tantalising points of terminology – “biltogh” (only found in Sweden, meaning obscure, but Ruiter suggested “protection”) brings to mind Dutch “borgtocht” (guarantee) and perhaps the Scots “bield”.   All in all it was perhaps fitting that this paper was given just as Aberdeen University publishes its fine memorial volume to Professor Angelo Forte (“Continuity, Change and Pragmatism in the Law”, ed. ARC Simpson et al): this was a session that he would have enjoyed greatly.

Ross Macdonald is a doctoral candidate at Edinburgh Law School.

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British Legal History Conference

From our colleagues at UCL:

Booking for the 2017 British Legal History Conference is now open. The theme of the conference is ‘Networks and Connections’.

The conference is to be held at UCL from the 5-8 July. Full details of the conference and the draft programme can be found at the conference webpage: http://www.laws.ucl.ac.uk/event/british-legal-history-conference/. The conference dinner will be held in the Jeremy Bentham Room at UCL on Friday 7 July.

There is a booking link at the bottom of the conference webpage. Please note that places at the conference dinner are limited and available on a first come, first served basis, so early booking is advised.

When booking, please ignore the ‘Selden Society Lecture/Reception’ option. This year the BLHC will incorporate the annual Selden Society lecture as the first plenary lecture of the conference. This lecture and the following reception are covered within the standard conference registration fee and there is no need to register for the Selden Society Lecture/Reception separately if you register for the conference.

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Alan Rodger Postgraduate Visiting Researcher, University of Glasgow

This blog is delighted to note that the University of Glasgow School of Law invites applications from PhD students in Roman law/legal history for the post of Alan Rodger Postgraduate Visiting Researcher, to be held during the 2017/18 academic year. The selected candidate will spend a term in Glasgow and receive a £2,000 award for support. The deadline for applications is 10 February 2017. Full details are available from its website: http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/law/research/themes/legalhistoryatglasgow/alanrodgerendowment/visitingresearcher/

As Lord Rodger of Earlsferry Alan had a distinguished career in the Supreme Court, after having  held the offices of Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General of Scotland. he had had a distinguished career at the bar and had served as Lord Advocate. A Glasgow graduate, Alan had studied for his doctorate under David Daube in Oxford. While a young advocate, he tutored in Civil (Roman) Law in this University.

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