Title: Samuel Pufendorf and John Locke – Two important political economists?Arild Sæther, professor emeritus Agder Academy of Science and Letters, Kristiansand, Norway
Author: Saether Arild

Abstract The year 1632 saw the birth of two children that turned out to have a substantial influence on the development of the European Enlightenment. Samuel Pufendorf was born in Thüringen in Germany during the turbulent times of the 30 years war, John Locke in Somerset, England during the first years of the English revolution. Although Pufendorf and Locke never met, or exchanged letters, they were somewhat intertwined and have had a substantial influence on the development of each others ideas or the dispersion of these ideas. This article contends that they both also became important political economists. Samuel Pufendorf was educated at University of Leipzig and University of Jena, where he studied Descartes, Grotius and Hobbes. His first book Elementorum jurisprudentiae universalis (The Elements of Universal Jurisprudence) was published in Leyden in the Netherlands in 1660. The author acquired an enviable reputation and it started his remarkable career; 1660 professor at University of Heidelberg, 1668 professor at University of Lund, 1677 royal historiographer at the court in Stockholm, and in 1688 historiographer and judicial councillor at the court in Berlin. Pufendorf became an extremely productive writer. He wrote on natural law, history and religion. His natural law writings contain an integrated account of ethics, jurisprudence, social sciences and last but not least political economy. His writings on political economy included theories of human behavior, private property, value and money, foundation of states and taxation. John Locke was educated at Christ Church College, Oxford, where he studied modern philosophy, such as Descartes, but also medicine. He had Pufendorf’s Elements in his possession when he lectured on natural law in the beginning of the 1660’s. He also got hold of Pufendorf’s other natural law works. Later in life Locke spoke highly of Pufendorf, recommended him to others and used his natural law works in developing his own theories. This meant that Locke acquired a good theoretical knowledge of natural law, which included a state of the art exposition of ethics, jurisprudence, politics and political economy, early in his life. In 1667 Locke became personal physician to the later Earl of Shaftesbury. In the following years he started writings on several essays. One of his most important sources was Pufendorf. During this time he also served as secretary on important government boards. This gave him first hand knowledge of how the government worked. Shaftesbury was involved in the struggle between the Parliament and king and had to flee the country. Two years later Locke had to follow him to the Netherlands. Here he continued his writings which, he started to publish when he returned to England in 1688. In the next ten to fifteen years he published one essay after the other. Many of these essays contained writings on political economy which included theories of human behaviour, private property, price, interest and money and the foundation of government. Both Pufendorf and Locke became famous in their own life time and they had with their writings a tremendous influence on the philosophical and political development in the 18th century. Locke not only himself used Pufendorf as a primary source but he recommended others to use him. In his Thoughts Concerning Education, published in 1693 contended that the education of gentlemen had include a thorough study of Pufendorfs natural law works. He therefore contributed to making Pufendorf’s natural law works obligatory for students, such as Francis Hutcheson, David Hume and Adam Smith. They were all directly influenced by Samuel Pufendorf.

Registred web users only can download this paper - Go back

Please note that files available for download have not been checked for viruses. These files have been submitted by authors of the conference to this web site. Conference organisers can't accept any responsibility for damages caused to users by downloading such files.