Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter v: Of the Duty of a Man towards Himself 19 - The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature
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chapter v: Of the Duty of a Man towards Himself 19 - Samuel von Pufendorf, The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature 
The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature, trans. Andrew Tooke, ed. Ian Hunter and David Saunders, with Two Discourses and a Commentary by Jean Barbeyrac, trans. David Saunders (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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Of the Duty of a Man towards Himself 19
I.Man liable to Obligation to Himself.Although the Love of himself be so deeply fix’d in the Mind of Man, as to put him always under a Sollicitous Care of Himself, and upon Endeavours by all means to procure his own Advantage; so as, upon Consideration hereof, ’twould seem superfluous to find out Laws to oblige him to the same: * yet in other Respects it is necessary, that he be bound to the Observation of some certain Rules touching Himself.L. N. N. l. 1. c. 4. For, not being born for himself alone, but being therefore furnish’d with so many excellent Endowments, that he may set forth his Creator’s Praise, and be rendred a fit Member of Human Society; it follows hence, that it is his Duty, to cultivate and improve those Gifts of his Creator which he finds in himself, that they may answer the End of their Donor; and to contribute all that lies in his Power to the Benefit of Human Society. Thus, though true it is, that the Ignorance of any Man is his own Shame and his own Loss; yet we accuse not the Master of Injustice, who chastises his Scholar for Negligence in not learning those Sciences of which he is capable.
II.The general Obligation that every one lies under to take care of his Soul.And since Man consists of two Parts, a Soul and a Body, whereof the first supplies the Part of a Director, the other that of an Instrument or subordinate Minister; so that our Actions are all performed by the Guidance of the Mind, and by the Ministration of the Body; we are hence obliged to take care of both, but especially the former.
The Care of the Soul consists, in general, in the right Formation of the Mind and Heart; that is, not only in framing to our selves true and just Opinions concerning all those Things to which our Duties bear any reference, and in making a true Judgment of, and setting a right Value upon, those Objects which commonly excite our Appetites; but also in regulating the Dispositions of our Minds; in reducing and conforming them to the Dictates of right Reason; in employing our Time and Pains in the Prosecution of honest Arts and Sciences; and, in one word, in getting our selves possest of all those Qualities which are necessary for us to lead an honest and a sociable Life.20
III.Particular Duties to which this Care of our Soul obliges us.Among all the Opinions then, which it highly concerns all Men firmly to settle in their Minds, the chief are those which relate to ALMIGHTY GOD, as the great Creator and Governour of the Universe, such as are represented in the foregoing Chapter. The full Persuasion of these great Truths being not only the principal Ground of the Whole Duty of Man to God,1. To settle in our selves right Opinions of Religion. L. N. N. l. 1. c. 4. §7. but the Foundation of all those Virtues which we are to exercise toward our Neighbour, and the true Source of all that Quiet of Conscience and Tranquillity of Mind, which is one of the greatest Blessings of Life. Since no sober and considering Man can deny these Truths, we must diligently avoid and utterly reject all those Opinions, which contain in them any thing contrariant to Principles so important. By which I mean not only Atheism and Epicurism, but all other Sentiments which are prejudicial to Human Society, or destructive of good Manners; such being incompatible with true Religion, and overturning the very Foundation of the Morality of Human Actions; of which kind there are many Instances.21
The first I shall mention is the Stoical Conceit of Fate or Destiny, and (which nearly resembles it) Judicial Astrology; by which it being supposed, that all things happen in the World by an internal and inevitable Necessity, Men must be looked upon as the simple Instruments only of their own Actions; for which, consequently, they are no more accountable upon this Presumption, than a Clock is answerable for the Motion of its Wheels.
Another Opinion there is very nearly allied to this, which supposes the unalterable Consequences of Causes, and of Effects; or the great Chain of Things, established by the Creator, to stand by such an Immoveable Decree, that even God has left Himself no Liberty of interposing in particular Cases.
Most pernicious likewise is that Conceit, which makes GOD allow a kind of Market of Sins, so as to suffer them to be bought off with Money, to be commuted for with Offerings, with the Observance of some vain Ceremonies, or the Utterance of some set Forms of Speech, without Amendment of Life, and an honest Endeavour to become Good Men. To this may be joyned, the sottish Imagination of such, who fancy that Almighty GOD is delighted with such Inventions of Men, such Institutions and Ways of Living, as are disagreeable to Human and Civil Society, as it is regulated by the Dictates of Reason and the Laws of Nature.
All superstitious Notions, such as debase and dishonour the Divine Nature and Worship, are carefully to be avoided, as contrary to true Religion.
The same thing must be said of the Notions of those Men, who imagin that the bare Exercise of Piety towards GOD in Acts of Devotion, as they are called, is sufficient, without any Regard had to Honesty of Life, or to those Duties which we are to practice towards our Neighbour. Nor is the Conceit of others less Impious, who fancy, that a Man may be able, not only to fulfil his own Duty towards GOD, but even exceed what is required of him, and thereby transfer some of his Merits on others; so that one Person’s Negligence in his Duty, may be supply’d from the Works of Supererogation, that is, the Over-righteousness of another. Of the same Stamp is that shameful Opinion of some others, that imagine, that the Wickedness of some Actions is overlooked and excused by GOD, on the Account of the Dexterity, the Humour, or the Gallantry of the Persons who do them; as if such Sins passed only as Jests and Trifles in the Cognisance of Heaven. No less wicked is it to believe, that those Prayers can please GOD, by which a Man desires, that others may suffer an undeserved Evil, for the occasioning or promoting an Advantage to himself; or to imagine, that Men may treat, in the worst manner they please, such as are of a different Persuasion from them in Religious Matters. Not to mention some other such like Opinions, which carry indeed the Pretence of Piety, but in reality tend to the Destruction of Religion and Morality.
IV.2. To arrive at a true Knowlege of our selves. The Duties that result from such a knowledge. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 4. §5.When we have thus arm’d our Minds against all false Opinions of the Divine Nature and Worship, the main Concern behind is, for a Man accurately to examine his own Nature, and to study to know himself.22
From this Knowledge of himself, rightly pursued, a Man is brought acquainted with his own Original; he comes to know perfectly his Condition here, and the Part he is to bear in the World. Hereby he will perceive, that he does not exist of himself, but owes his Being and Life to a Principle infinitely superior to him; that he is endowed with Faculties far more noble than he sees enjoy’d by the Beasts about him; and farther, that he was not born by himself, nor purely for his own Service, but that he is a Part of Human kind. From thus knowing a Man’s self he must necessarily conclude, that he lives in Subjection to Almighty GOD, that he is obliged, according to the Measure of the Gifts he hath received from his Maker, to serve and honour Him; and moreover, to behave himself towards his Equals in such a manner, as becomes a Sociable Creature. And in as much as GOD hath bestowed on him the Light of Reason and Understanding, to guide him in the Course of his Life, it evidently follows, that he ought to make a right Use of it: And consequently not to act at random, without End or Design, but, whatever he undertakes, to propose thereby to himself some particular End, in its self both possible and lawful, and to direct his own Actions suitably to that End; as also to use such other Means as he shall find proper for the compassing it. Again, from hence it follows, that since Truth and Right are always uniform and without alteration, so a Man ought always to form the same Judgments of the same Things, and when he hath once judged truly, to be always constant in his Mind and Resolution. Farther it follows, that a Man’s Will and Appetite ought not to get the Superiority over his Judgment, but follow and obey it, never making resistance to its Decrees; or, which amounts to the same thing, Men ought to form no Judgments but upon mature Deliberation, nor ever to act against their Judgments so formed.
L. N. N. l. 2. c. 4. §7.Besides, by considering and knowing himself, a Man will rightly apprehend his own Strength and Power: He will find that it is of a finite nature, having certain Limits beyond which it can never extend it self; and therefore, that there are many Things in the World which he can no ways manage or compass, many that he can no ways hinder or resist, and other Things again not absolutely above Human Power, but which may be prevented and intercepted by the Interposition of other superior Powers. Again, another Sort of Things there are, which though we cannot compass by our bare Strength, yet we may, if it be assisted and supported by Dexterity and Address.
What seems to be most free from outward Restraint, and most within our own Power is our Will; especially so far as it is concerned in producing and exerting Actions suitable to our Species of Being, as we are reasonable Creatures. Hence it follows, that every Man ought to make it his main Care and Concern, rightly to employ all his Faculties and Abilities, in conformity to the Rules of right Reason. For this is the Standard by which we are to rate the Worth of every Person, and to measure his intrinsical Goodness and Excellency.
As to other Matters which lie without us, before he enters upon the Pursuit of them, A Man should diligently examine, Whether they do not surpass his Strength? Whether they tend to a lawful End? and, Whether they are worth the Labour which must be spent in obtaining them? When, upon mature Deliberation, he is resolved to engage in any such Affairs, a wise Man will indeed use his best Efforts to bring his Design about; but if he finds those Endeavours ineffectual, he will not strive against the Stream, and drive on his Designs with vain Hope, but quit his Pursuit without Grief or Anger at his Disappointment. From these Considerations this further Consequence may be drawn; That Man, as he is guided only by the Light of Reason, ought principally to aspire after that Happiness in this World, which arises from the prudent Government of his Faculties, and from those Assistances and Supports which the Divine Providence he knows will afford him in the universal Administration of things. Hence he will not leave things to meer Hazard and Chance, while there is room for Human Caution and Foresight. But then, since human Foresight is very weak in discovering future things, which are so far from being under our Guidance, that they frequently fall out beyond our Hopes and Expectations: Hence it is plain, that we ought neither too securely to trust to our present Condition, nor to spend too much Care and Anxiety on what is to come: and for the same reason, Insolence in Prosperity and Despair in Adversity are to be both avoided, as equally dangerous and equally absurd.
V.3. To regulate the measure of our Desires in proportion to the Just value of the things we desire. How we ought to seek for Honour or Esteem. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 4. §9.Another necessary Improvement of our Mind and Understanding is, To be able to set a just Price on those Things which are the chief in moving our Appetites. For, from this Knowledge it is that the degree of Desire is to be determined, with which we may seek after them.
Among these, that which bears the greatest sway, and appears with most splendor, and which most forceably moves Elevated and Noble Souls, is the Opinion of Worth and Excellency; an Opinion from whence springs what we usually call Glory or Honour: In respect to which we are to form and temper our Minds in the following manner.
We must use our utmost Care and Endeavour to procure and preserve that kind of Esteem that is simply so called, that is, the Reputation of being Good and Honest Men; and if this Reputation be assaulted by the Lies and Calumnies of Wicked Men, we are to use all possible Pains to wipe them off; but if that be not in our Power, we are to comfort our selves with the Testimony of a good Conscience, and with the Assurance, that our Integrity is still known to GOD.
As for that Esteem, which is oft-times called Intensive, or Esteem of Distinction, but more commonly Honour or Glory, we are no otherwise to pursue it, than as it redounds from such worthy Actions as are conformable to Right Reason, and productive of the Good of Human Society; but even then good Heed is to be taken, that hereby our Mind do not swell with Arrogance and Vain-glory. If at any time we have no Opportunity, or want an Occasion of shewing our Worth, without being able to procure one, we must bear this ill Fortune with Patience, since there is nothing in it that can be charged upon our Default. To value our selves upon, and make our boasts of what is empty, vain, and trifling, is most impertinent and ridiculous; but it is abominably Wicked, as well as extremly Foolish, to aspire to Fame and to Honours by evil Arts, and by Deeds repugnant to Reason; and to desire Preheminence above others, only to be able to insult over them, and to make them obnoxious to our Pleasure.
VI.In what manner we may desire Riches.The Desire of outward Possessions, Riches, and Wealth, does also prevail greatly in the Minds of Men; and no wonder, since Men have not only need thereof for their own Support and Preservation in the World, but also often lie under an indispensible Duty to provide them for others. But then, because our Wants are not infinite, but lie in a very narrow Compass, and since Nature is not wanting in a plentiful Provision for the Necessities of her Sons; and lastly, since all that we can heap together must, at our Death, fall to others; we must moderate our Desire and our Pursuit of those Things, and govern our selves in the Use of them according to the just Occasions of Nature, and the modest Demands of Temperance and Sobriety. We must do no dishonest or base Thing for the procuring them; we must not increase them by sordid Avarice, nor squander them away by profuse Prodigality, nor in any ways make them subservient to vicious and dishonest Purposes. Farther, since Riches are of a very perishable Nature, and may be taken from us by many Accidents and Casualties, we must, with respect to ’em, put our Mind in so even a Temper, as not to lose it self if it should happen to lose them.
VII.In what manner we may desire Pleasures. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 4. §11.The Desire of Pleasures does as strongly excite the Minds of Men as that of Honour or Riches: In reference to these we must observe, that there are Innocent Pleasures and Criminal Pleasures. The latter of which must be always avoided; but it is by no means a Fault to enjoy the former, provided it be done with moderation, and in conformity to the Rules of Temperance and Sobriety. As there is no Fault to avoid, as much as may be, unnecessary Grief and Pain, because they tend to the Destruction of the Body; so Reason, on the other side, is so far from forbidding us the Enjoyment of moderate Recreation and innocent Pleasure, that it directs us to entertain our Senses with such Objects as are, in this manner, agreeable and delightful to them, since hereby the Mind is unbent and refresh’d, and render’d more active and vigorous. But then, in the Enjoyment of these lawful and innocent Gratifications, great Care is to be taken, that we enjoy them to such a Degree only, that we be not thereby weakened and enervated; that neither the Vigour of the Body or Soul be thereby lessen’d; that they waste not nor consume our Wealth, when it might be better and more usefully laid out; and that they steal not our Time from better and more necessary Employments. Lastly, This must be an inviolable Rule, that no Pleasure must be purchased at so dear a Rate, as the Neglect or Transgression of our Duty; nor ought any to be receiv’d that brings after it Loss, Disgrace, Sorrow, or Repentance.
VIII.4. We ought to subject our Passions to the Government of our Reason. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 4. §21.Lastly, The chief Care incumbent on us, in order to improve and well cultivate our Mind, is, to use the utmost Diligence, To gain the Mastery over our Passions; to maintain the Sovereignty of our Reason over the Motions and Affections of our Minds; the greatest Part of which, if they gain the Ascendant, and grow masterless, do not only impair the Health of the Body, and the Vigour of the Soul, but cast such a Cloud on the Judgment and Understanding, as to wrest them violently from the Ways of Reason, and of Duty. So that the natural Principle of Prudence and Probity amongst Men, may be justly said to be founded in calming and cooling the Passions. But let us briefly speak of them in particular.
JOY is in it self a Passion most agreeable to Nature; but strict Care is to be taken, that it break not out on improper Occasions, that it shew not itself in Matters vain or trifling, base or indecent.
SORROW, like a Canker, wastes both the Body and Soul: it is therefore as much as possible to be remov’d and expell’d, nor ever to be admitted, even moderately, unless when by the Ties of Humanity, we are obliged to express our Concern, or Pity at the Misfortunes, or at the Deaths of others; and as it is requisite to the great Duty of Repentance.
LOVE is a Passion of a benevolent and friendly Nature to Mankind; but yet it is to be so wisely managed and moderated, that it be not fix’d upon an unworthy Object; that we take not unlawful Ways to satisfy its Demands; that it keep within due Bounds, so as not to degenerate into Disease and Disquiet, if the beloved Object is not to be obtained.
HATRED is a Passion pernicious, as well to the Person who employs it, as to those against whom it is employ’d; it is therefore diligently to be quenched and stifled, lest it betray us to Injuries, and Breach of Duty against our Neighbours. And when any Persons do really deserve our Aversion, we must even then take care not, on their Account, to create Uneasiness and Disquiet to our selves.
ENVY is a most deform’d Monster, sometimes producing ill Effects in others, but always in the Envious Person, who, like Iron cankered with Rust, not only defiles, but destroys himself continually.
HOPE, although in it self a Passion mild, easy, and gentle, yet is it also to be brought under due Regulation. We must be careful not to direct it to Things vain or uncertain; nor, by placing it on Objects out of our Reach, and beyond our Power, make it tire it self to no purpose.
FEAR, as it is a dangerous Enemy to Men’s Minds, so is it a Passion altogether useless and unprofitable. It is indeed by some esteemed the Parent of good Caution, and consequently, the Occasion of Safety; but this good Caution may owe it self to a much better Principle, it may arise without the Assistance of Fear, from a wary Circumspection, and a Prudence alike untouched with Anxiety or with Consternation.
ANGER is the most violent, as well as the most destructive of all the Passions, and is therefore to be resisted with our utmost Strength and Endeavour. It is so far from exciting Men’s Valour, and confirming their Constancy in Dangers, as some alledge, that it has a quite contrary Effect; for it is a Degree of Madness, it renders Men blind and desperate, and runs them headlong into their own Ruin.
DESIRE OF REVENGE is nearly related to Anger; which, when it exceeds a Moderate Defence of our selves and Concerns, and a just Assertion of our Rights against the Invaders of them, turns, beyond Dispute, into a Vice.
IX.How far the Study of Arts and Sciences is necessary. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 4. §13.In such Duties as we have reckoned up doth that Culture of the Mind chiefly consist, which all Men are indispensably obliged to look after: But there is still behind a more peculiar Culture and Improvement of the Mind, consisting in the various Knowledge of Things, and the Study of Arts and Sciences. This Knowledge, it is true, cannot be said to be absolutely necessary to the Discharge of our Duty in general, but yet must by all be allowed to be exceedingly useful to supply the Necessities and promote the Conveniencies of Human Life, and therefore by every one to be followed, according as his own Capacity and Occasion will permit.
No one disputes the Usefulness of those Arts, which supply the Necessities, or contribute to the Convenience of Human Life.
As to Sciences; some may be stiled Useful; others Curious, and others again Vain.
In the Number of useful Sciences, I reckon Logick, which teaches to reason justly, closely, and methodically; those Sciences which have any respect to Morality, Physick, and all such Parts of Mathematicks as lay the Foundation of those practical Arts, which serve to procure and augment the Necessaries or Conveniencies of Life.
By Curious, or Elegant Sciences, I understand such as are not indeed of so necessary Use, as to render the Life of Man less sociable, or less convenient upon the Want of them; but yet such as serve to gratify and please an innocent Curiosity, to polish and adorn our Wit, and to embellish and render our Understanding more compleat: Such Sciences are, Natural and Experimental Philosophy, the more fine and subtile Parts of Mathematicks, History, Criticism, Languages, Poetry, Oratory, and the like.
By Vain Sciences, I mean such as are made up of false and erroneous Notions, or are employ’d about frivolous, trifling, and unprofitable Speculations; such are the Amusements of old Philosophers, the Dreams of Astrologers, and the Subtilties of the School-men.
To employ Labour and Pains in these last Sort of Studies is highly unworthy of any Man, and an unpardonable Waste of his Time. But whosoever would not deserve to be accounted an useless Lump on Earth, a Trouble to himself and a Burthen to others, ought, as far as he has Means and Opportunity, to employ himself in some of the aforemention’d Arts and Sciences. Every one at least ought, in a proper Time, to take upon himself some honest and useful Employment, agreeable to his natural Inclinations, suitable to the Abilities of his Body and Mind, Extraction, and Wealth; or according as the just Authority of his Parents, the Commands of his Superiours, or the Occasion and Necessity of his own private Circumstances shall determine.23
X.Wherein consists the Care of the Body.Altho’ the Care of our Soul, which we have been explaining, is the most difficult, as well as the most necessary Part of our Charge in this Life, yet ought we by no means to neglect the Care of our Body; these two constituent Parts of us being so strictly united and ally’d to each other, that no Injury or Hurt can come to the one, but the other must likewise bear its Part in the Suffering.
We must therefore, as far as possible, continue and increase the natural Strength and Powers of our Bodies, by convenient Food and proper Exercise; not ruining them by any Intemperate Excess in Eating or Drinking, nor wasting and consuming them by unnecessary or immoderate Labours, or by any other Abuse or Misapplication of our Abilities. And upon this Account, Gluttony, Drunkenness, the immoderate Use of Women, and the like, are to be avoided: And besides, since unbridled and exorbitant Passions, not only give frequent Occasion to disturb Human Society, but are very hurtful even to the Person himself; we ought to take care with our utmost to quell them, and subject them to Reason. And because many Dangers may be escap’d, if we encounter ’em with Courage, we are to cast off all Effeminacy of the Mind, and to put on Resolution against all the terrible Appearances that any Event may set before us.
XI.Whether a Man has the Power of his own Life.And yet, because no Man could give himself Life, but it must be accounted as the bounteous Favour of God, it appears, that Man is by no means vested with such a Power over his own Life, as that he may put an End to it when he pleases; but he ought to tarry, till he is call’d off by Him who placed him in this Station. Indeed, since Men both can and ought to be serviceable to one another, and since there are some Sorts of Labour, or an Overstraining in any, which may so waste the Strength of a Man, that old Age and Death may come on much sooner than if he had led an easy and painless Life; there is no doubt but that a Man may, without any Contravention to this Law, chuse that Way of living which may with some probability make his Life the shorter, that so he may become more useful to Mankind. And whereas sometimes the Lives of many will be lost, except some Number of Men expose themselves to a Probability of losing their own on their behalf; in this Case the lawful Governour has Power to lay an Injunction on any private Man under the most grievous Penalties, not to decline by Flight such Danger of losing his Life. Nay farther, he may of his own Accord provoke such Danger, provided there are not Reasons more forcible for the contrary; and by thus Adventuring he has hopes to save the Lives of others, and those others are such as are worthy so dear a Purchase. For it would be silly for any Man to engage his Life together with another to no purpose; or for a Person of Value to die for the Preservation of a paltry Rascal. But for any other Cases, there seems nothing to be required by the Law of Nature, by which he should be persuaded to prefer another Man’s Life before his own, but that all things rightly compared, every Man is allowed to be most dear to himself. And indeed all those who voluntarily put an end to their own Lives, either as tir’d with the many Troubles which usually accompany this Mortal State; or from an Abhorrence of Indignities and Evils which yet would not render them scandalous to Human Society; or thro’ Fear, or Pains, or Torment, by enduring which with Fortitude, they might become useful Examples to others; or out of a vain Ostentation of their Fidelity and Bravery; All these, I say, are to be certainly reputed Sinners against the Law of Nature.
XII.Self-Defence moderated.But whereas it often happens that this Self-Preservation, which the tenderest Passion and exactest Reason thus recommends to Mankind, does seem to interfere with our Precepts concerning Society, then when our own Safety is brought into Jeopardy by another, so far that either we must perish, or submit to some very grievous Mischief, or else we must repel the Aggressor by force and by doing him Harm; Therefore we are now to deliver, With what Moderation the Defence of our selves is to be tempered. This Defence of our selves then will be such as is, either without any Harm to him from whom we apprehend the Mischief, by rendring any Invasion of us formidable to him and full of Danger; or else by hurting or destroying him. Of the former way, [whether (in private Men) by keeping off the Assailant, or by Flight, &c.] there can be no Doubt but that ’tis lawful and altogether blameless.
XIII.We may repel force by force, even so far as to kill an unjust Aggressor. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 5. §2.But the latter may admit of Scruple, because Mankind may seem to have an equal Loss, if the Aggressor be killed, or if I lose my Life; and because one in the same Station with my self will be destroyed, with whom it was my Duty to have lived in Civil Society: Beside, that a forcible Defence may be the Occasion of greater Outrages, than if I should betake my self to flight, or patiently yield my Body to the Invader. But all these are by no means of such Weight as to render this Sort of Defence unlawful. For when I am dealing fairly and friendly with another, it is requisite that he shew himself ready to do the like, or else he is not a fit Subject of such good Offices from me. And because the End of the Law of Society is the Good of Mankind, therefore the Sense thereof is to be taken, so as effectually to preserve the Welfare of every Individual or particular Man. So that if another Man make an Attempt upon my Life, there is no Law that commands me to forgoe my own Safety, that so he may practise his Malice with Impunity: And he that in such case is hurt or slain, must impute his Mischief to his own Wickedness, which set me under a Necessity of doing what I did. Indeed otherwise, whatsoever Good we enjoy either from the Bounty of Nature, or the Help of our own Industry, had been granted to us in vain, if we were not at liberty to oppose the Violences of Ruffians, who would wrongfully ravish all from us; and honest Men would be but a ready Prey for Villains, if they were not allowed to make use of Force in defence of themselves against the others Insults. * Upon the whole then, it would tend to the Destruction of Mankind, if Self Defence even with Force were prohibited to us.
XIV.Extremities last to be used. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 5. §3.Not however that hence it follows, that as soon as any Injury is threatned us, we may presently have recourse to Extremities; but we must first try the more harmless Remedies; for instance, we must endeavour to keep out the Invader by cutting off his Access to us; to withdraw into strong Places; and to admonish him to desist from his outragious Fury. And it is also the Duty of a prudent Man to put up a slight Wrong, if it may conveniently be done, and to remit somewhat of his Right, rather than, by an unseasonable Opposition of the Violence, to expose himself to a greater Danger; especially if that Thing or Concern of ours upon which the Attempt is made, be such as may easily be made amends for or repaired. † But in Cases where by these or the like means I cannot secure my self, in order to it I am at liberty to have recourse even to Extremities.
XV.Self-Defence how far justifiable in a supposed state of Natural Liberty.But that we may clearly judge, whether a Man contains himself within the Bounds of an unblameable Defence of himself, it is first to be examined, whether the Person be one who is in a State of Natural Liberty or subject to no Man, or one who is obnoxious24 to some Civil Power. In the first Case, if another shall offer Violence to me, and cannot be brought to change his malicious Mind and live quietly, I may repel him even by killing him. And this not only when he shall attempt upon my Life, but if he endeavour only to wound or hurt me, or but to take away from me my Goods, without meddling with my Body. For I have no Assurance but from these lesser Injuries he may proceed to greater; and he that has once professed himself my Enemy (which he doth whilst he injures me without Shew of Repentance) gives me, as far as ’tis in his Power to give, a full Liberty of proceeding against him, and resisting him in such manner as I shall find most necessary for my own Safety. And indeed the Sociality necessary to Human Life would become unpracticable, if a Man may not make use even of Extremities against him who shall irreclaimably persist in the Commission tho’ but of meaner Wrongs. For at that rate the most modest Persons would be the continual Laughing-stock of the vilest25 Rakehels.26
XVI.How the Right of Self-defence is limited in a State of Civil Society. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 5. §4.But in Civil Society, those who are Subjects to the Civil Power, may then only use Violence in the Defence of themselves, when the Time and Place will not admit of any Application to the Magistrate for his Assistance in repelling such Injuries by which a Man’s Life may be hazarded, or some other most valuable Good which can never be repaired, may be manifestly endangered.
XVII.Of the Time when in a State of Nature Self defence may be allowable.As for the time when Men may put in practice their just Right of Self-defence, it may be learnt from the following Rules.
Altho’ every one, under that Independence in which all Men are supposed to be in a State of Nature, may and ought to presume, that all Men are inclined to perform towards him all those Duties which the Law of Nature directs, until he has evident Proof to the contrary: Nevertheless, since Men have natural Inclinations to that which is ill, no one ought to rely so securely on the Integrity of another, as to neglect taking all necessary Precautions to render himself secure, and placed, as far as may be, out of the Reach of other Men’s ill Designs. It is but common Prudence to stop up all Avenues against those from whom we apprehend Hostilities, to be provided with serviceable Arms, to raise Troops, to get Succour and Assistance, in case of need, by Alliances and Confederacies, to have a watchful Eye over the Actions and Behaviour of those whom we have reason to apprehend to be our Enemies; and, in a word, to use all other Precautions of this Nature, which appear necessary to prevent our being surprized or found unprovided. The Jealousy and Suspicion which we ought to have of each other, from our Knowledge of the Pravity of Human Nature, will justifie our acting thus far; but then it must stop here: it must not put us upon using Violence to our Neighbours, under pretence of disabling them from injuring us, and of preventing their making a mischievous Use of that superior Power we see them have; especially if we find that this Increase of Power in them, and their Superiority over us, was the Product of their innocent Industry, or the Gift of Providence, and not the Result of Injury and Oppression.
* Nay, if our Neighbour, whom we see powerful enough to hurt us, should shew an Inclination to use that Power mischievously, by actually injuring others, yet shall not this justifie our Assaulting him by way of prevention, till we have good Evidence, that he designs us also Mischief; unless we are under some prior Engagement or Alliance, to support the Persons we see thus injuriously attacked by a superior Power. In this Case we may with greater Vigour oppose the Invader, and take the Part of our injured Ally; since we have very good Reason to apprehend, that when by his superior Power he has oppressed him, he will apply the same Force against us; and that the first Conquest he makes is to be the Instrument of another that he intends.
But when we have evident Proof that another does actually intend, and has taken proper Measures to do us an Injury, altho’ he has not openly declared such his Intention; then we may fairly put our selves on our Defence, and anticipate the Aggressor before he compleats the Preparations he is making to do us the designed Mischief: Provided notwithstanding we have endeavoured, by friendly Advice, to move him to lay aside his ill Purposes so long, that there remains no Hopes of his being prevailed upon to do so by fair and gentle Means: In using which friendly Advice and gentle Means, care must be taken, that it be not done when it may prove a Prejudice and a Disadvantage to our own Affairs. He who first forms the Design to do an injurious Act, and first makes Preparation to bring it about, is to be accounted the Aggressor; altho’ it may perhaps so fall out, that the other using greater Diligence, may prevent him, and so commit the first open Acts of Hostility. It is not absolutely necessary to a justifiable Self-defence, that I receive the first Stroke, or that I only ward off and avoid the Blows that are aimed at me.27
But farther: In a State of Nature of which we are speaking, a Man has not only a Right to repel a present Danger with which he is menaced, but also, after having secured himself from the Mischief intended him, he may pursue his Success against the Aggressor, till he has made him give him satisfactory Security of his peaceable Behaviour for the time to come. Concerning which Caution and Security, the following Rule may be usefully observed: If a Man having injured me, shall presently after, repenting of what he had done, come voluntarily and ask my pardon, and offer Reparation of the Damage; I am then obliged to be reconciled to him, without requiring of him any farther Security than his Faith and Promise to live hereafter in Peace and Quietness with me. For when of his own accord any Person takes such measures, it is a satisfactory Evidence, that he has altered his Mind, and a sufficient Argument of his firm Resolution to offer me no Wrong for the future. But if a Man having injured me, never thinks of asking Pardon, or of shewing his Concern for the Injuries he has done me, till he is no longer in Condition to do them, and till his Strength fails him in prosecuting his Violences; such an one is not safely to be trusted on his bare Promises, his Word alone being not a sufficient Warrant of the Sincerity of his Protestations. In such Case, in order to our farther Security, we must either cut off from him all Power of doing Mischief, or else lay upon him some Obligation of greater Weight and Force than his meer Promise, sufficient to hinder him from appearing ever after formidable to us.
XVIII.When and how far a Man may defend himself with arm’d force in a State of Civil Society.But among Men who live in a Community,28 the Liberties for Self-defence ought not to be near so large. For here, tho’ I may know for certain, that another Man has armed himself in order to set upon me, or has openly threatned to do me a Mischief; this will by no Means bear me out in assaulting him; but he is to be informed against before the Civil Magistrate, who is to require Security for his good Behaviour. The Use of Extremities in repelling the Force being then only justifiable, when I am already set upon, and reduced to such Streights, that I have no Opportunity to require the Protection of the Magistrate, or the Help of my Neighbours; and even then I am not to make use of Violence, that by the Slaughter of my Adversary I may revenge the Injury, but only because without it my own Life cannot be out of Danger.
Of the Time when in a State of Civil Society Self-defence may be allowable.Now the Instant of Time, when any Man may with Impunity destroy another in his own Defence, is, when the Aggressor, being furnished with Weapons for the Purpose, and shewing plainly a Design upon my Life, is got into a Place where he is very capable of doing me a Mischief, allowing me some time, in which it may be necessary to prevent rather than be prevented; although in foro humano a little Exceeding be not much minded in regard of the great Disturbance such a Danger must be thought to raise in the Spirit of Man. And the Space of Time in which a Man may use Force in his own Defence, is so long as till the Assailant is either repulsed, or has with-drawn of his own accord, (whether in that Moment repenting of his wicked Design, or for that he sees he is like to miss of his Aim) so that for the present he cannot hurt us any more, and we have an Opportunity of retiring into a Place of Safety. * For as for Revenge of the Wrong done, and Caution for future Security, that belongs to the Care of the Civil Magistrate, and is to be done only by his Authority.
XIX.Whether a Man may use his Right of Self-defence against one that assaults him by mistake. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 5. §5.Farthermore,29 both in a State of Nature, and in a Civil State, it is lawful for every Man to defend himself, if the Precautions before-mentioned be taken against him who attempts to take away his Life; whether it be designedly, and with a malicious Intention, or without any particular Design against the Party assaulted: As suppose a Mad-man, or a Lunatick, or one that mistakes me for some other Person who is his Enemy, should make an Attempt on my Life, I may justifiably use my Right of Self-Defence; for the Person from whom the Attempt comes, whereby my Life is hazarded, hath no Right to attack me, and I am by no means obliged to suffer Death unnecessarily; on which account it is altogether unreasonable that I should prefer his Safety to my own.
XX.How the most just Self-defence ought to be managed: and of Duels.Nevertheless though true it is, that we ought not to take away another Man’s Life, when it is possible for us after a more convenient way to avoid the Danger we are in; yet in consideration of that great Perturbation of Mind, which is wont to be occasion’d upon the Appearance of imminent Mischief, it is not usual to be over-rigorous in the Examination of these Matters; for it is not likely that a Man trembling under the Apprehension of Danger, should be able to find out so exactly all those Ways of escaping, which to one who sedately considers the Case may be plain enough. Hence, though it is Rashness for me to come out of a safe Hold to him who shall challenge me; yet, if another shall set upon me in an open Place, I am not streight obliged to betake my self to Flight, except there be at hand such a Place of Refuge as I may withdraw into without Peril: Neither am I always bound to retire; because then I turn my defenceless Back, and there may be hazard of falling; beside, that having once lost my Posture, I can hardly recover it again. But as the Plea of Self-defence is allow’d to that Person who shall thus encounter Danger, when he is going about his lawful Business, whereas if he had staid at Home he had been safe enough; so it is denied to him who being challenged to a Duel, shall by appearing set himself in that Condition, and except he kill his Adversary, himself must be slain. * For the Laws having forbidden his venturing into such Danger, any Excuse on account thereof is not to be regarded.
XXI.Defence of Members. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 5. §10.What may be done for the Defence of Life may also for the Members; 30 so as that he shall be acquitted for an honest Man who shall kill a Ruffian, that perhaps had no farther Intention than to maim him, or give him some grievous Wound: For all Mankind does naturally abhor to be maimed or wounded; and the cutting off any, especially of the more noble Members, is often not of much less value than Life itself; beside, we are not sure beforehand, whether upon such wounding or maiming Death may not follow; and to endure this is a Sort of Patience that surpasses the ordinary Constancy of a Man, † to which no man is regularly obliged by the Laws, only to gratifie the outragious Humour of a Rogue.
XXII.Defence of Chastity. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 5. §11.Moreover, what is lawfully to be done for Preservation of Life,‡ is adjudged to be so for Chastity: Since there cannot be a more horrid Abuse offered to an honest Woman, than to force her out of that which being kept undefiled is esteemed the greatest Glory of their Sex; and to put upon her a Necessity of raising an Offspring to her Enemy out of her own Blood.
XXIII.Defence of Goods or Estate. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 5. §16.As for Defence of Goods or Estate, this may, among those who are in a State of Natural Liberty, go as far as the Slaughter of the Invader, * provided what is in Controversie be not a Thing contemptible. For without Things necessary we cannot keep our selves alive; and he equally declares himself my Enemy, who wrongfully seizes my Estate, as he that attempts upon my Life. But in Communities, where what is ravished from us may, with the Assistance of the Civil Authority, be recovered, this is not regularly allowed; unless in such case when he that comes to take away what we have, cannot be brought to Justice: On which account it is, that we may lawfully kill Highwaymen and Night-robbers.
XXIV.Self Defence in him that first injur’d. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 6. §19.And thus much for Self-Defence in those who without Provocation are unjustly invaded by others: But for him who has first done an Injury to another, he can only then rightly defend himself with Force, and hurt the other again, when having repented of what he has done, he has offered Reparation of the Wrong and Security for the future; and yet he who was first injured, shall, out of ill Nature, refuse the same, and endeavour to revenge himself by Violence; [shewing hereby that he seeks not so much Reparation and Right to himself, as Mischief to the other.]
XXV.Self Preservation in Cases of Necessity. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 6.Lastly, Self-Preservation is of so much regard, that, if it cannot otherwise be had, in many Cases it exempts us from our Obedience to the standing Laws; and on this Score it is, that Necessity is said to have no Law. For seeing Man is naturally inspired with such an earnest Desire to preserve himself, it can hardly be presumed that there is any Obligation laid upon him, to which he is to sacrifice his own Safety. For tho’ not only God, but the Civil Magistrate, when the Necessity of Affairs requires it, may lay upon us so strict an Injunction, that we ought rather to die than vary a Little from it; yet the general Obligation of Laws is not held to be so rigorous. For the Legislators, or those who first introduced Rules for Mankind to act by, making it their Design to promote the Safety and common Good of Men, must regularly be supposed to have had before their Eyes the Condition of Human Nature, and to have considered how impossible it is for a Man not to shun and keep off all Things that tend to his own Destruction. Hence those Laws especially, called Positive, and all Human Institutions are judged to except Cases of Necessity; or, not to oblige, when the Observation of them must be accompanied with some Evil which is destructive to Human Nature, or not tolerable to the ordinary Constancy of Men; unless it be expressly so ordered, or the Nature of the Thing requires, that even that also must be undergone. Not that Necessity justifies the Breach of a Law and Commission of Sin; but it is presumed, from the favourable Intention of the Legislators, and the Consideration of Man’s Nature, that Cases of Necessity are not included in the general Words of a Law. This will be plain by an Instance or two.
XXVI.Cutting off Members. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 6. §3.I.Though otherwise Man have no such Power over his own Members, as that he may lose or maim any of them at his pleasure; yet he is justifiable in cutting off a gangren’d Limb, in order to save the whole Body; or to preserve those Parts which are sound; or lest the other Members be rendred useless by a dead and cumbersome Piece of Flesh.
XXVII.One lost to save many.II.If in a Shipwrack more Men leap into the Boat than it is capable of carrying, and no one has more Right than another to it; they may draw Lots who shall be cast overboard; and if any Man shall refuse to take his chance, he may be thrown over without any more ado, as one that seeks the Destruction of all.
XXVIII.One hastens the Death of another to save himself. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 6. §4.III.Iftwo happen into imminent Danger of their Lives, where both must perish; one may, as he sees good, hasten the Death of the other, that he may save himself. For instance, If I, who am a skilful Swimmer, should fall into some deep Water with another who could not swim at all, and he clings about me; I not being strong enough to carry him off and my self too, I may put him off with force, that I may not be drowned together with him; tho’ I might for a little while be able to keep him up. So in a Shipwrack, if I have got a Plank which will not hold two, and another shall endeavour to get upon it, which if he does, we are both like to be drowned, I may keep him off with what violence I please. And so if two be pursued by an Enemy meaning to kill them, one may, by shutting a Gate or drawing a Bridge after him, secure himself, and leave the other in great Probability of losing his Life, supposing it not to be possible to save both.
XXIX.Another destroyed or hurt to the same end.IV.Cases also of Necessity may happen, where one may indirectly put another in Danger of Death, or some great Mischief, when at the same time he means no harm to the Person; but only, for his own Preservation, he is forced upon some Action which probably may do the other a Damage; always supposing that he had rather have chosen any other Way, if he could have found it, and that he make that Damage as little as he can. Thus, if a stronger Man than I pursues me to take away my Life, and one meets me in a narrow Way thro’ which I must flee, if, upon my Request, he will not stand out of the Way, or he has not time or room so to do, I may throw him down and go over him, tho’ it be very likely that by the Fall he will be very much hurt; except he should be one who has such peculiar Relation to me, [suppose my Parent, King, &c.] that I ought for his Sake rather to surrender my self to the Danger. And if he who is in the Way cannot, upon my speaking to him, get out of the Way, suppose being lame or a Child, I shall be excused who try to leap over him, rather than to expose my self to my Enemy by delaying. But if any one shall, out of Wantonness or cross Humour, hinder me or deny to give me the Liberty of escaping, I may immediately by any Violence throw him down, or put him out of my Way. And those who in these Cases get any Harm, are to look upon it not as a Fault in the Person that did it, but as an unavoidable Misfortune.
XXX.Case of extreme Want. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 6. §5.V.If a Man, not through his own Fault, happen to be in extreme Want of Victuals and Cloaths necessary to preserve him from the Cold, and cannot procure them from those who are wealthy and have great Store, either by Intreaties, or by offering their Value, or by proposing to do Work equivalent; he may, without being chargeable with Theft or Rapine, furnish his Necessities out of their Abundance, either by force or secretly, especially if he do so with a Design to pay the Price, as soon as he shall have an Opportunity. For it is the Duty of the opulent Person to succour another who is in such a needy Condition. And tho’ regularly what depends upon Courtesie ought by no means to be extorted by Force, yet the Extreme Necessity alters the Case, and makes these Things as claimable, as if they were absolutely due by a formal Obligation. But it is first incumbent upon the Necessitous Person to try all Ways to supply his Wants with the Consent of the Owner, and he is to take care that the Owner be not thereby reduced to the same Extremity, nor in a little time like to be so; and that Restitution be made; * especially if the Estate of the other be such as that he cannot well bear the Loss.
XXXI.Destroying other Men’s Goods to save our own. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 6. §8.VI.Lastly, the Necessity of our own Affairs seems sometimes to justifie our destroying the Goods of other Men;1. Provided still, that we do not bring such Necessity upon our selves by our own Miscarriage:2. That there cannot be any better Way found: 3. That we cast not away that of our Neighbours which is of greater Value, in order to save our own which is of less:4. That we be ready to pay the Price, if the Goods would not otherwise have been destroyed, or to bear our share in the Damage done, if the Case were so that his must have perished together with ours, but now by the Loss of them ours are preserved. And this sort of Equity is generally found in the Law-Merchant.31 Thus in case of Fire, I may pull down or blow up my Neighbour’s House, but then those whose Houses are by this means saved, ought to make good the Damage proportionably.
[19.]Despite the English editors’ publicity claim to have made many useful additions to Pufendorf’s text, the only substantial ones are to be found in this chapter. The added material begins with the second paragraph of section II and continues through sections III–IX, which consist of material on the care of the self taken from Pufendorf’s Law of Nature and Nations, II.iv. The ultimate source of this reconstruction is Immanuel Weber, who claims to have introduced the interpolations with Pufendorf’s approval, when undertaking the first German translation in 1691. Tooke’s translation, which appeared in the same year, did not borrow them. Barbeyrac’s first French edition of 1707 did, however, and it is from here that the editors of the 1716/35 English edition borrowed their reconstruction. Thus their wording of the added paragraphs is clearly an English translation of Barbeyrac’s French.
[*] The Duties of every Man, which directly and solely respect himself, have their immediate Foundation in that LOVE which every Man by Nature hath OF HIMSELF; which was before laid down as one of the grand Principles of Natural Right, and which not only obliges a Man to preserve himself, as far as possibly he can, without prejudice to the Laws of Religion or Sociality; but also to put himself into the best Condition he can, and to obtain all the Happiness of which he is innocently capable. See L. N. N. Lib. II. Cap. III. §15. [Barbeyrac’s note (I.1, p. 71) in fact refers to the “three great principles of natural right”—love of oneself, of God, and of society—continuing his attempt to evade Pufendorf’s subordination of these to the need for security and the cultivation of sociability.]
[20.]The interpolated sections begin here.
[21.]The following duties related to the care of the soul, taken from LNN, II.iv.4–5, represent a characteristically Lutheran rejection of “fatalistic” philosophical rationalism and “ritualistic” Catholicism.
[22.]Despite Pufendorf’s objections to Stoic fatalism, the advice on care of the self in sections IV–VIII contains a compendium of neo- Stoic rules for cultivating the self and restraining the passions and desires in accordance with the limited ends of personal and civil tranquillity.
[23.]This marks the end of the sections on the care of the self added by Weber and subsequently copied by Barbeyrac and thence the editors of the 1716/35 edition. The following section, X, on the care of the body, was section III in Pufendorf’s original Latin text and in Tooke’s first English edition.
[*] See Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, Lib. I. & Chap. 2. Lib. II. c. 1. §3. Et seq.
[†] Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, Lib. 1. cap. 1.
[24.]Here and elsewhere Tooke uses “obnoxious” in the early modern (Latin) sense of “subject to.” The distinction he draws is thus between self- defense where there is no prevailing law or civil authority and self- defense where these conditions prevail.
[26.]In Pufendorf’s original and Tooke’s first English edition a further paragraph begins here. Barbeyrac moved this to the bottom of section XVII, and the English editors show their fidelity to Barbeyrac’s text by altering Tooke’s version accordingly.
[*] See Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, Lib. 2. cap. 1. §17, &c. and c. 22. §5.
[27.]The following paragraph originally stood as the final paragraph of section XV (i.e., section VIII in Pufendorf’s original). It is not clear why Barbeyrac moved it.
[28.]Here and elsewhere in the discussion of self- defense, Tooke again opts for “community” in place of Pufendorf’s “state” (civitas).
[*] Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, Lib. 2. Cap. 1. §5.
[29.]The opening word is incongruous because, far from continuing the thought of the preceding section, this one contradicts it, indicating circumstances in which individuals may defend themselves regardless of the civil magistrate. In fact this section (XIX) is not in its original location. It was originally Pufendorf’s section X, which means that it should be located between sections XV and XVI in Barbeyrac’s augmented version of Chapter V. In relocating this section Barbeyrac evidently intended it to undermine Pufendorf’s transfer of the right of self- defense to the civil magistrate. That this was Barbeyrac’s intent is clear from the long note (XIX.1, p. 99) that he added near the end of this section in his translation, the burden of which is to justify a subject’s right of defence against the unjust aggression of the civil magistrate himself. In choosing not to include this incendiary note, the editors largely defeated the purpose of Barbeyrac’s rearrangement of Pufendorf’s text.
[*] See Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, Lib. 2. Cap. 1. §15.
[30.]The “members” or limbs of the body.
[†] See Grotius de Jure Belli, & Pacis, Lib. 2. Cap. 1. §6.
[‡] Mr. Budaeus denies this (in the 2d Part of his Elements of Practical Philosophy, chap. 4. sect. 3.) and his Reason is, That there is no Proportion between the Life and the Honour of any Person. But can any Violation be too great for a Woman to expect from a Man that is arriv’d to such a Pitch of Brutality? Besides, Honour is a Good whose Loss is not only irrecoverable, but which, among civiliz’d Nations, is placed in the same Degree of Value with Life it self. After all, does not such an Act of Hostility as this, give her a perfect Right to have recourse to Extremities against a Man, who to satisfie his brutish Passion, irreparably stains the Honour and takes away the Liberty of an honest Woman? See Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, lib. 2. cap. 1. §7. [Barbeyrac’s XXII.1, p. 102.]
[*] The Author I just now quoted pretends in the same place, that no one can justifiably kill a Thief, unless he attempts to steal from him so considerable a Part of his Substance, as that he could not live upon the Remainder. But this learned Author has said nothing to invalidate the Principles, and confute the Reasons alledged to the contrary by our Author, in his large Work of The Law of Nature and Nations, of which this is an Abridgment. See Lib. 2. Cap. 5. §16. [Barbeyrac’s XXIII.1, p. 102.]
[*] See Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, lib. 2. cap. 2. §6. lib. 3. cap. 17. §1, 2. seq.
[31.]The leges nauticae (lex mercatoria), or “law of the sea.”