Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION XI - A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations
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SECTION XI - Johann Gottlieb Heineccius, A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations 
A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations, with Supplements and a Discourse by George Turnbull. Translated from the Latin by George Turnbull, edited with an Introduction by Thomas Albert and Peter Schröder (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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The natural and necessary dependence of mankind, points out to us the order in which our social affections ought to operate.Which we now proceed to point out, that we may shew the particular order in which nature at once impels and obliges us to exercise and gratify our social affections. Nature may, as we have already seen, be very properly said to oblige, or lay us under a necessity of regulating our affections and actions in the way that the constitution of our mind, and the circumstances in which we are placed, make necessary to our happiness. And nature may be said to impel us to exert our affections in the way in which they naturally tend to work or exert themselves. And if we attend to our affections, and the order in which they naturally tend to operate or exert themselves, we will find that it is that very order which our constitution and circumstances make necessary to our well being and happiness; so exactly are our constitution and our circumstances adapted the one to the other. It is plain that social affections could not have their proper exercises, except where many mutual dependencies take place; because giving and receiving, or communication, can not take place but where there are mutual wants. Now, our mutual wants and dependencies must be wants and dependencies either with respect to the goods of the body, or the goods of the mind. For all our goods, as hath been observed (§9), are reducible into these two classes: Wherefore, mutual wants and dependencies in these respects, are necessary to the exercises of our social affections, or to our social enjoyments. Take away from mankind all the exercises of social affection, and we reduce them into a state of mere indolence and inactivity, and leave nothing in human life to employ men agreeably, or actuate them warmly or strongly: We take away all that gives the highest relish to life, all its most touching and interesting exercises and employments. But if we take away the objects of af-fections or exercises, we to all intents and purposes destroy the affections themselves; for it is to all intents and purposes the same, whether they do not take place in a constitution, or taking place, have not objects to call them forth into action and employ them. The differences therefore which obtain among mankind, in consequence of the different talents, genius’s and temperatures of mind, or of different circumstances, necessarily occasioning different operations, various degrees and turns of the same powers and affections, do indeed serve to cement and unite mankind together, and to produce a constitution of things, in which alone our social affections can have various proper exercises; a constitution of things, in which alone various social enjoyments can take place. And therefore, with regard to us,
All nature’s diff’rence keeps all nature’s peace.10
Several of these dependencies, and the affections corresponding to them explained.This will be evident, if we but consider what the affections and employments are which give us social enjoyment. For how can benevolence, love of power, compassion, charity, gratitude, or any other affection, which hath the qualities, conditions, and actions of others for their objects, take place but where wants are supplied, dependence is created, happiness is given; or where beings can mutually gratify one another in various manners, by mutually adding to one another’s happiness and enjoyment, or alleviating one another’s pains? But it will still be more evident, when we consider the dependencies which actually obtain among mankind, and the affections in human nature, corresponding to these dependencies. Now, 1. In general, to the very support of our bodies, many labours are necessary, and consequently, various communications of labour: nor are various united labours less necessary to our having the pleasures which arise from knowledge, and the improvements of the understanding and ima-gination. These two facts are too evident to stand in need of any proof. And in order to our having enjoyments of both these kinds by united labours, mankind are endued with various talents, various genius’s and turns of mind. Some are fitted for one kind of labour and employment, and some for another. Every one stands in need of many, and every one is peculiarly adapted by nature to assist the rest in some particular way. It is in order to promote a general commerce among mankind, that through the whole globe, the habitation of mankind, every climate, every country, produces something peculiar to it, which is necessary to the greater convenience, or at least to the greater comfort and ornament of the inhabitants in every other. So in every country, throughout all mankind in general, there prevails a division of talents, genius’s and abilities, which makes every one necessary in a particular way to the general good, or at least renders every one capable of contributing something towards general happiness, by the application of his talents in their proper way, or to the end for which they are peculiarly adapted. And indeed in the narrowest view we can take of human happiness, that is, even when we confine it to our bodily subsistence, to eating, drinking, protection against the injuries of weather, and such other conveniencies, which will be readily acknowledged not to be all that mankind are qualified to have and enjoy, even tho’ we should quite abstract from the higher pursuits of understanding and imagination, in the improvements of arts and sciences, from every thing that comes under the notion of ornament, elegancy or grandeur; yet even in this confined view, many labours, various industry is necessary. And consequently, men are laid by a necessity of nature under obligation mutually to engage one another, to unite their labours, and communicate their industry for one another’s subsistence. But as men would have but very little pleasure in labour, and the communications of their industry which are necessary to their subsistence, were not exercise, as hath been observed (§9), naturally agreeable to men, and were we not so constituted as to have immediate pleasure in social communication, in every social exercise; so men, as we are constituted, cannot engage one another in mutual assistance, but by shewing each his willingness to assist the rest, and his sincere cordial regard to the well-being and interest of the whole body. Every one, in order to be liked and regarded by others, must at least put on the shew of liking and regarding others; for one would otherwise be looked upon as a common enemy, and as such be abandoned, nay, hated and persecuted by all men. And let me just observe here, in opposition to those who assert that there is not really any benevolence or regard to the interests of others in human nature, but that it is self-love which assumes the affected appearance of it, in order to deceive, well knowing the necessity of seeming to love others, in order to be assisted by them, as our necessities require.11 Let me observe, that were there not generally prevailing among mankind a real principle of sociality and benevolence, this imposition, this counterfeit regard to others, would not be able to answer its end. Were all men utterly devoid of any such principle, and were the appearance of sociality every where counterfeited, the false appearance would nowhere take; it would nowhere be believed, and nothing like trust, or harmony and union could prevail among mankind, but they would live in continual jealousies and suspicions. So that of necessity it must be owned, that there is in the generality of mankind naturally a real principle of sociality and benevolence. This is plain from the necessary effect of one’s being discovered to have acted under a mask of benevolence and honest regard to others; for in that case, hardly can any power or strength such a person may have acquired, protect him against just resentment. Such a one must indeed be strongly defended to secure himself against the condign vengeance of mankind. And whatever his power may be, in consequence of his wrath and guards, or armies attached to him by his wealth, hanging upon him by the teeth (to use the phrase of a very great author),12 yet he cannot avoid being hated by all the rest, and he cannot be loved even by them who are thus tied to him: And consequently, it is no wonder, that every one of this character, and in this situation with regard to mankind, in consequence of his known character, hath ever been found most compleatly miserable; tormented by galling fears, suspicions and jealousies. There never was a tyrant who was not in this terrible condition, as Cicero observes, Offices, book 2.13 then are not only under a necessity by nature of being social, but they are actually provided with affections which make them such, as well as with the various talents necessary to a variety of industry, and communication of industry. So that thus far nature obliges and impels to the same course of life, viz. a course of social industry and communication, a course of honest and cordial interchanges of mutual assistances and services. 2. But besides this general dependence diffused throughout the whole species, there are dependencies of another kind among mankind, to which likewise there are correspondent affections in human nature, that without such dependencies would not have exercise or employment. The Author of nature hath spread over mankind a natural aristocracy, which appears in every assembly of mankind. Some are superior in understanding to the greater part, in every casual or designed meeting of men, consisting of suppose ten, twenty, or any other number. And what is the natural effect of this, in consequence of the hu-man frame? Superiority in wisdom, by fitting to give proper counsel in matters of common concernment, naturally produces esteem, veneration, submission, and gratitude in those who feel the benefit of their superior wisdom, or to whom it serves as a light to direct them; that is, it gives authority to the men of superior wisdom; and it excites cordial dependence and confidence upon them in the breasts of those who reap the advantages of it. And thus those who excel in wisdom, have the pleasure of having authority and respect paid to them. And those who receive counsel and direction from them, have the pleasure of being instructed by them, and the sincere satisfaction which arises from gratitude and affection to benefactors, which is naturally so strong, that it is hard to say who are happiest, those who give, or those who receive. This we may observe, from the pleasure with which youth receive information from a prudent affectionate teacher: and in general, from the warm and zealous affection with which persons obliged attach themselves to a wise and generous patron, follow his directions: and espouse his interest.
But let it be observed, that this is only the case while those of superior parts shew a sincere regard in their counsels and directions to the general good; and do not attempt to deceive those who depend upon them into hurtful measures, with a selfish narrow view. For so soon as that is perceived, veneration is changed into contempt and hatred. And thus the superior in parts deprives himself of one chief reward of superior prudence, which is, the authority, leading and dependence it would other-wise give him. History is full of instances, which are so many clear proofs of this. The Roman history in particular, in the language of which republic, as an excellent author hath observed, the influence of superiority in wisdom united with benevolence, was called auctoritas patrum; and the veneration paid by the people to it was called verecundia plebis.15 There is in every man naturally a desire of power. It indeed enlarges and becomes stronger, in proportion as the mind enlarges and opens. But it is so strong, even in the meanest, that unless they depend, or hang upon others by the teeth, they may be led, but they will not be driven. If nature had not implanted in all men a desire of power, and a strong sensibility to wrong and injury, the veneration which superiority in parts naturally inspires, would have rendered the generality of mankind, who stand in need of leading and direction, too submissive, too tame and humble. But notwithstanding the natural aristocracy diffused over mankind, yet such is the general temper of mankind, that not only superiority in parts, without benevolence, will not gain respect and submission, but even a stricter and closer dependence will hardly be able to keep men in subjection when power over them is abused, if it can by any means be shaken off. 3. And this leads me to take notice of another kind of dependence among mankind; a dependence necessarily resulting from inequality in property. I need not stay to prove that earth, the habitation of men, being given by nature to be possessed and appropriated by the industry of the first occupants, the world could no sooner be tolerably well peopled, but in every district there would be inequality of property. I need not stay to prove how this would naturally happen in consequence of the manner in which mankind is propagated by successive generations, the natural aristocracy among mankind, which hath been mentioned, and other causes; nor to shew what revolutions in property, commerce, not to mention force, will naturally be ever bringing about, where the balance of property is not fixed by civil laws and constitutions; far less need I stay to prove that an over-balance of property will produce power or dominion proportional to it. These things have been sufficiently explained by the most ingenious Harrington.16 All that it belongs to our present purpose to observe with relation to it, is, that as inferiorities and superiorities, with regard to the good of the body as well as of the mind, are necessary to social communication; necessary to make mankind mutually dependent, or to lay a foundation for mutual giving and receiving; so, with respect to external dependencies, or hanging by the teeth, that must necessarily take place among mankind in consequence of unequal property, men are furnished by nature with all the affections such dependencies require, in order to render them a means of agreeable union and coherence, or to found upon them very various social commerce. For, 1. Men have a principle of benevolence to excite them to take delight in doing good, and in being serviceable to one another. And, 2. They have a sensibility to oppression and injustice, which impels them to ward against injury, and resent it with great vehemence. Wherefore, as without some sort of dependencies there could be no such thing as social commerce; so mankind could not be better provided by nature than they are for reaping all the advantages of mutual dependencies, and for securing themselves against all the inconveniencies that can arise from mutual dependency. And as reciprocal dependence lays mankind under a necessity of social communication; so the natural affections with which men are endued, point out to us the manner in which social communication ought to be carried on. For benevolence naturally produces love and gratitude. But no one can be so powerful as not to want assistance in many respects; and the indignation against injury, and aversion to slavery or absolute subjection, natural to mankind, will render power very ineffectual to true happiness without benevolence. Since that alone can excite love, affection, trust, or esteem; and he who knows himself to be hated and despised, must be very unhappy amidst the greatest affluence of outward enjoyments, as well as very unsecure of long possessing them. Thus therefore nature hath made the exercises of benevolence, good-will, compassion, generosity, gratitude, fidelity, integrity and friendship, to be, in every respect, the happiness of mankind, and the happiness of every individual. And therefore, of the mutual wants and dependencies among mankind, which some look upon as an objection against the good government of the world, it may justly be said,
But this will yet more clearly appear, when we consider, 4. The necessary dependence of children upon their parents, in consequence of the manner in which nature hath appointed the propagation of mankind, and the affections which nature hath implanted in men, in order to direct and impel them to the care of their infant-offspring, and to the propagation of mankind in the way necessary to the general happiness of mankind. It is evident, that proper care cannot be taken of infants, as they come into the world in a most helpless condition, unless their parents unite together in concern about bringing them up to a state capable of doing for themselves. Neither their bodies nor their minds can otherwise be taken due care of. Now, in order to excite us to this care, nature hath implanted in us several strong affections, all centering in it as their end; so that a great part of human happiness, a great part of our most agreeable employments, really consists in parental cares, and filial returns to such cares. There is not only a strong mutual sympathy between the sexes, founded in, and supported by many mutual wants and ties. But mankind have a strong natural inclination to continue themselves in a new race, which they may look upon as their own; to which a regular union between the sexes, in such a manner, that love and fidelity may be most securely depended upon, is evidently necessary. And no sooner are children born to parents in such a way, that there is no doubt of their being the offspring of faithful embraces, than a warm love springs up in their minds towards this progeny, which is considerably increased by our sense of their absolute dependence upon our care, and soon receives an additional warmth from the gratitude, love and attachment to us, which they very early discover, and which become firmer, by becoming more rational, in proportion to the care parents take of what is principal in relation to their childrens happiness, the formation of their minds. Desire to be a parent, and the head of a family, is an affection that early sprouts up in every mind, and hath betimes a great share in all our pursuits. And when the marital and parental ties are once formed, then nature points our views more immediately towards our offspring and family, as the most proper object of our care. And this is evidently the manner in which benevolence should operate in order to the general happiness of mankind. Thus nature makes certain persons nearer and dearer to one another, and by so doing ascertains or appropriates to every one certain more immediate objects of his concern and affection; and, at the same time, instead of severing or dividing mankind by this means into so many separate bodies, with separate interests, binds mankind together by so many more ties. For every one, who hath a warm attachment to the welfare of many endeared to him by special bonds and affections, must feel a stronger obligation, than those who are strangers to such motives, to gain the love of mankind, without which his own power to do good to such would be of very little consequence, however great it might be with it. There is this remarkable difference between the instinct of brutes, that impels them to the care of their offspring, and the natural affections of mankind.
Now nature, by thus ordering the propagation of mankind, and enduing us with corresponding affections as parents and as children, assigns to eve-ry one a more immediate and particular task or care; the faithful discharge of which by each in his sphere, would make human life all peace, love and harmony. Our general benevolence hath thus a particular biass, which points it into its proper road, or into its first cares and principal employments. Were mankind to be propagated as they are, and we not endued with the affections which are really implanted in us by nature, to how many bad chances, with regard to their education more especially, would mankind be exposed in their infant-state? And, on the other hand, if we had not those natural affections in us which tend to regular propagation, in order to have certain children, and to due care of our thus certain offspring; would not we want many sincere pleasures, many warm, interesting, delightful cares? Would it not our general benevolence want a strong source for nourishing and supporting it? And would not be left too vague and undetermined by nature? But being constituted as we are, our benevolence is properly directed, and properly invigorated; and nature hath given us affections to impel us to what necessity obliges us; with affections which makes every one feel immediate satisfaction in that regular exertion of benevolence, which the interest of all in general requires. Thus, while every man touches us as such, certain particulars strongly call upon our special attention; and we have each a particular province assigned to us by the natural tendency of our affections, the faithful discharge of which is contributing a very great share towards the public good. And this determination of our mind to particular exercises of benevolence, is so far from stinting and confining benevolence, or from having a natural tendency to degenerate into a narrow clannish disposition, that it naturally produces a fellow-feeling with all other parents and their cares, i.e. with all mankind; and renders the mind in general much more tender and sympathizing than it can be without frequently feeling such kindly emotions. For this plain reason, that humanity and benevolence, like all other affections, grow stronger and stronger by exercise; or, in other words, repeated exercises form a general temper correspondent to them.
We have now therefore found that nature lays us under the necessity of social communication, and impels us to it by strong affections; and lays us under the necessity of social communication in a certain order, to which it likewise prompts and impels us by very strong affections, giving particular determinations to our benevolence, or assigning a nearer, a more immediate province to it. And hitherto certainly we have found our nature to be very well constituted, even in that respect against which the greatest objections have been made (viz. differences or inequalities among mankind): and hitherto also we have found the obligations arising from our constitution, and the connexions of things relative to our happiness, to be very obvious. They stare every one, who considers human nature with any attention, so to speak, in the face.
[10 ] Pope, An Essay on Man, epistle IV, 56.
[11 ] Turnbull is again criticizing Hobbes and Mandeville. See, for example, Hobbes, Leviathan, chap. 13; Mandeville, “A Search into the Nature of Society,” in The Fable of the Bees, vol. I, 344, and Mandeville, “Dialogue between Horatio, Cleomenes, and Fulvia,” in The Fable of the Bees, vol. II, 132.
[12 ] “Hanging upon him by the teeth.” This phrase is derived from James Harrington’s Oceana: “To begin with riches, in regard that men are hung upon these, not of choice as upon the other [that is, authority], but of necessity and by the teeth: for as much as he who wanteth bread is his servant that will feed him, if a man thus feed an whole people, they are under his empire,” Harrington, Political Works, 163. Harrington distinguishes between “authority” and “power.” The former is based on “prudence, or the reputation of prudence.” Contrary to Hobbes, however, Harrington believes that this authority is insufficient as a basis of political power, which must rest on “riches,” in particular land ownership. See the discussion in Fukuda, Sovereignty and the Sword.
[13 ] Cicero, De officiis 2.7.23–26.
[14 ] Pope, An Essay on Man, epistle IV, 57–60.
[15 ]Auctoritas patrum is the “authority of the fathers,” verecundia plebis the “reverence of the people.” See Harrington, “The Prerogative of Popular Government,” bk. I, chap. v., p. 416, in Political Works.
[16 ] Harrington argued that political power depended on the distribution of wealth, especially landed property. See note 12, p. 583.
[17 ] Pope, Essay on Man, epistle II, 255–56.
[18 ] Ibid., III, 119–38.