Front Page Titles (by Subject) DEFINITION XI: Principles of human action are those things from which it springs and upon which it depends, and by which a human action is brought to completion. - Two Books of the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence
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DEFINITION XI: Principles of human action are those things from which it springs and upon which it depends, and by which a human action is brought to completion. - Samuel von Pufendorf, Two Books of the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence 
Two Books of the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence, translated by William Abbott Oldfather, 1931. Revised by Thomas Behme. Edited and with an Introduction by Thomas Behme (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2009).
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Principles of human action are those things from which it springs and upon which it depends, and by which a human action is brought to completion.
1. The principles of an action are either disposing principles, by which it is merely begun, or efficient and deciding principles, by which a human action is brought to act.
Disposing principles are: (1) Moving principles, in part indirectly and that either naturally, as the end, or morally, as the occasion; in part directly, and that likewise either naturally, as inclination, or morally, and that extrinsically, as persuasion, bidding, incitation, or intrinsically, as obligation. (2) Directing principles, either in a moral way, as law, or in a natural way, as discernment. (3) Assisting principles, as means which are natural, like natural power, and that which chiefly manifests itself here, the faculty of locomotion; or else moral things, as authority. Efficient or deciding principles are immediate causes from which a human action has its being, and are such either simply, as will, whose respect to the directing moral principle is called obedience; or else they are combined with inclination, as habit.
2. The end is a certain good which is sought for its own sake, or because it has something in itself for the sake of obtaining which the action is undertaken; and it is either an ultimate end or an intermediate one. The greatest variety is found in this latter class. The former is called the summum bonum, which is either imaginary or what seems the summum bonum to the corrupted judgement of men, as pleasure of the body, wealth, honour, power, fame, &c., or true and agreeable to reason, as the pleasure and repose of the mind resulting from the practice of the virtues and the contemplation of things. To this is opposed the summum malum, which again is either imaginary, as poverty, diseases, servitude, contempt, &c., or true, as disquiet and anxiety of the mind arising from the practice of the vices and ignorance of things. The leading place, moreover, among principles is assigned to the end, because it must be known and valued before the rational agent bestirs himself to perform an action, and it is abhorrent to the nature of the rational agent to move, as it were, toward a vacuum, that is, to undertake anything without a predetermined end.
3. Occasion is that by which is offered to any one equipped with a natural faculty, in a convenient place and time, an object of some action. For, in order that a person be said to have an occasion for acting, it is essentially required: (1) That the object of the action be present, or that it can be secured with only a little trouble. (2) That there be ready at hand a convenient place where we can be unhindered by others in our action, or, after the action, may not be affected by some inconvenience. (3) That a convenient time present itself, in which more necessary matters do not have to be performed, and in which we and others who concur in the action are conveniently situated. (4) That there be a natural faculty or power to act. It must be noted, nevertheless, here, that in common speech sometimes he also is said to have an occasion, who has merely the first three requisites, although he be deprived of the power of action. But, since the rest are of no avail when this last is wanting, you will call that an imperfect occasion. Moreover, occasion is like a very effective spur to undertake good as well as bad actions, and thus the common expression, that “occasion makes the thief,” is all too true.
4. An order is that whereby there is pointed out to some one, by virtue of the force of command [imperii], an action which he ought to perform. An action of that kind upon orders, undertaken as by that person who is subject to the orders of another, satisfies the obligation toward the giver of the order; thus, if neither the giver of the order has exceeded the limits of his authority, nor the other exceeded the limits of the thing commanded, it reflects, as it were, its effects properly and directly not back upon the executor, but upon the commander, and therefore it is imputed primarily not to the former but to the latter. But, truly, he who has no authority over another, so that he may deal with him as under his command [imperio], is left only the faculty of persuading or dissuading, whereby, through the introduction of reasons, and by explaining the nature of the effects, he strives to induce the other to undertake something or to call him back from the same. But, if we confirm or drag back a man who has already determined upon a destination, or one who is already equipped for action, we are said to be inciting and deterring. And although there is by no means the force of obligation attached to cases of advice and incitation, and so he who lends an ear to them, since he admits them freely, is altogether exercising his own action and not that of another; since, nevertheless, they have great force, especially when dexterously applied, to make others undertake or cease from an action, or to be confirmed or weakened in regard to their undertakings, this is the reason why the effect of an action is in part imputed also against advisers and inciters.
5. Means are employed by an agent to attain a certain end, when the will is unable to achieve that end directly by its own motion, so that some end may, as it were, approach the agent, or the agent approach some end. The following rule must be observed with regard to the end: He who justifies the end is regarded also as justifying those means without which the end cannot be obtained, for otherwise nothing would have been done. From this it follows that, if the means be illicit or impossible, I am not held to that end which cannot be obtained without them. And from this it follows that evil ought not to be done in order that good may result, because no one is regarded as being bound to that good which it is not given him to attain without wrongdoing.
Now among natural means the principal one is the faculty of locomotion, whereby a man is able to move his body from one place to another, to make a partial change in the position of definite members, and to impress movement upon things. This faculty slavishly obeys the will, that is to say, it can never refuse to do its commands, but rather, as far as in it lies, it performs them, unless either the members themselves are restrained by some intrinsic or extrinsic impediment, or the object is not so proportioned that movement can be impressed upon it by that faculty.
6. The second book will be the place for treating of the emotions, the intellect, and the will. Here must be noted, concerning the will, merely that it is called habit, in so far as it is conformed and enabled to handle expeditiously the moral object, under difficulty of abstention from, or vehement inclination toward, that object. Immediately upon the presentation of the object the will so disposed is swept away toward it with so great an impetus that it can scarcely abstain from it. Also this habit is directed principally towards any moral actions, and this for the reason that good and evil are measured principally according to the free choice of the agent’s action, and this free choice is commonly regarded to have been scarcely complete, unless one has acted in accordance with one’s habit. And so it is that he, and he only, who acts well by habit, receives the name of a good man, and he who acts ill by habit, the name of a bad man; not the man who once or twice by some chance impulse, or because he could not do otherwise conveniently, has done some good, or who through thoughtlessness, or the violence of emotion, has done some evil.1 Moreover, in a special way there are listed under the designation of virtues those habits by which the mind is so ordered that it acts, in regard to the objects which move it, according to the dictates of sound reason. Reason prescribes, furthermore, that the sight neither of good nor of evil, when brought before the mind, should disturb and shake it out of its tranquillity;2 just as, on the contrary, we say that he is suffering from a fault whose mind is so affected by the appearance of an object, be it harsh or pleasant, that his tranquillity is, as it were, agitated by violent waves and broken up.
Obligation, law, and authority require a more detailed discussion.
[1. ] For the connection of free choice, habit, and virtue discussed here, the primary source is Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics III, 1113b3–1114b25; cf. JNG, 1, 4, §6.
[2. ] These remarks on tranquillity of the mind derive from the Stoic doctrine of ἀπάθεια; see Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, trans. A. E. Douglas (Warminster, Eng.: Aris & Phillips, 1985), 4, 37, where we first find the term perturbatum [disturb(ed)] that is used here (4, 11: perturbatio as translation of the Greek πάθος). See also the Neo-Stoic references (Pierre Charron, De la sagesse livres trois [Bordeaux, 1601], bk. II, chap. vi, nn. 1–2) in JNG, 2, 4, §§11–12.