Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter i: Of the Natural State of Men - The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature
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chapter i: Of the Natural State of Men - 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 Natural State of Men
I.Condition of MAN. L. N. N. l. 1. c. 1. §6, &c.In the next Place, we are to inquire concerning those Duties which are incumbent upon a Man with Regard to that particular State wherein he finds himself ordained by Providence to live in the World. What we mean by such State, is in general, that Condition or Degree with all its Relatives, in which Men being placed, they are therefore supposed to be obliged to these or those Performances: And such State, whatever it be, has some peculiar Rights and Offices thereunto belonging.1
II.Twofold. Natural and Adventitious. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 3. §24.The State of Man then may be distinguish’d into either Natural or Adventitious. The natural State, by the Help of the Light of natural Reason alone, is to be considered as Threefold, Either as it regards God our Creator, or as it concerns every single Man as to Himself, or as it affects other Men; concerning all which we have spoken before.
III.Natural State Threefold. First.The Natural State of Man consider’d in the first mention’d Way, is that Condition wherein he is placed by the Creator pursuant to his Divine Will, that he should be the most excellent Animal in the whole Creation. From the Consideration of which State, it follows, That Man ought to acknowledge the Author of his Being, to pay Him Adoration, and to admire the Works of His Hands; and moreover, to lead his life after a different Manner from that of the Brutes. So that the contrary to this State is the Life and Condition of Brutes.
IV.Second. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 2. §2.In the second Way we may contemplate the Natural State of Man, by seriously forming in our Minds an Idea of what his Condition would be, if every one were left *alone to himself without any Help from other Men.2 And in this Sense, the Natural State is opposed to a Life cultivated by the Industry of Men.
V.Third.After the third Way we are to regard the Natural State of Man, according as Men are understood to stand in respect to one another, merely from that common Alliance which results from the Likeness of their Natures, before any mutual Agreement made, or other Deed of Man perform’d, by which one could become obnoxious3 to the Power of another. In which Sense, those are said to live reciprocally in a State of Nature, who acknowledge no common Superior, and of whom none can pretend Dominion over his Fellow, and who do not render themselves known to each other, either by the doing of good Turns or Injuries. And in this Sense it is, That a Natural State is distinguish’d from a Civil State, that is, The State of Man in a Community.4
VI.Consider’d again Two ways L. N. N. l. 2. c. 2.Moreover, the Property of this Natural State may be consider’d, either as it is represented to us notionally and by way of Fiction, or as it is really and indeed. The former is done, when we imagine a certain Multitude of Men at the Beginning to have started up into Beings all at once without any Dependence upon one another, as it is fabled of the Cadmean Harvest of Brethren;5 or else when we form a Supposition, that all the mutual Ties, by which Mankind are one way or other united together, were now dissolv’d; so that every Man might set up for himself apart from the Rest, and no one Man should have any other Relation to his Fellow, but the Likeness of their Natures. But the true State of Nature, or that which is really so, has this in it, that there is no Man who has not some peculiar Obligations to some other Men, though with all the rest he may have no farther Alliance than that they are Men, and of the same Kind; and, beside what arises from thence, he owes them no Service at all. Which at this Time is the Case of many Kingdoms and Communities, and of the Subjects of the same, with respect to the Subjects of the other;6 and the same was anciently the State of the Patriarchs, when they liv’d independently.
VII.Paternal Authority.It is then taken for manifest, that all Mankind never were universally and at once in the former Natural State; for those Children who were begotten and born of the Protoplasts, or first created Man and Woman, (from whom the whole Human Race derives its Original, as the Holy Scriptures tell us) were subject to the Paternal Authority. Not but that this Natural State arose afterwards among some People; for Men at first, in order to spread over this wide World, and that they might find for themselves and their Cattle more spacious Abodes, left the Families of their Fathers, and roaming into various Regions, almost every single Man became himself the Father of a Family of his own; and the Posterity of these again dispersing themselves, that peculiar Bond of Kindred, and the Natural Affections thence arising, by little and little were extinct, and no other Obligation remain’d, but that common one, which resulted from the Likeness of their Natures: ’Till afterwards, when Mankind was vastly multiplied, they having observ’d the many Inconveniences of that loose Way of living, the Inhabitants of Places near one another, by Degrees join’d in Communities,7 which at first were small, but grew soon greater, either by the voluntary or forced Conjunction of many which were lesser. And among these Communities, the State of Nature is still found, they being not otherwise obliged to each other, than by the common Tie of Humanity.
VIII.Natural Liberty.Now it is the chief Prerogative of those who are in the State of Nature, that they are subject and accountable to none but God only; in which respect also, this is call’d a State of Natural Liberty, by which is understood, that a Person so circumstanced without some antecedent human Act to the contrary, is to be accounted absolutely in his own Power and Disposition, and above the Controll of all mortal Authority. Therefore also any one Person is to be reputed equal to any other, to whom himself is not subject, neither is that other subject to him.
And farthermore, whereas Man is indued with the Light of Reason, by the Guidance whereof he may temper and regulate his Actions, it follows, That whosoever lives in a State of Natural Liberty, depends not on any other for the Direction of his Doings; but is vested with a Right to do, according to his own Judgment and Will, any Thing he shall think good, and which is consonant to sound Reason.
And whereas Man, from that universal Inclination which is implanted in all living Creatures, cannot but, in order to the Preservation of his Person and his Life, and to the keeping off whatsoever Mischiefs seem to threaten the Destruction thereof, take the utmost Care and Pains, and apply all necessary Means to that End; and yet whereas no Man in this Natural State has any superiour Person, to whom he may submit his Designs and Opinions, therefore every one in this State makes use of his own Judgment only, in determining concerning the Fitness of Means, whether they conduce to his Self Preservation or not. For though he may give ear to the Advice of another, yet it is in his Choice, whether he will approve or reject the same. But that this absolute Power of Governing himself be rightly managed, it is highly necessary, That all his Administrations be moderated by the Dictates of true Reason, and by the Rules of the Law of Nature.
IX.Its Inconveniences.And yet this Natural State, how alluring soever it appears to us with the Name of Liberty, and flattering us with being free from all manner of Subjection, was clogg’d, before Men join’d themselves under Governments,L. N. N. l. 1. c. 3. §3. with many Inconveniences; whether we suppose every single Man as in that Condition, or only consider the Case of the Patriarchs or Fathers of Families, while they liv’d independent. For if you form in your Mind the Idea of a Man, even at his full Growth of Strength and Understanding, but without all those Assistances and Advantages by which the Wit of Man has rendred Human Life much more orderly and more easie than at the Beginning; you shall have before you, a naked Creature no better than dumb, wanting all Things, satisfying his Hunger with Roots and Herbs, slaking his Thirst with any Water he can find, avoiding the Extremities of the Weather, by creeping into Caves, or the like, exposed an easie Prey to the ravenous Beasts, and trembling at the Sight of any of them.
’Tis true, the Way of Living among the Patriarchs, might be somewhat more comfortable, even while they contain’d their Families apart; but yet it could by no Means be compar’d with the Life of Men in a Community; not so much for the Need they might have of Things from abroad, which, if they restrain’d their Appetites, they might perhaps well enough bear withal; as because in that State they could have little Certainty of any continu’d Security.
And, that we may comprehend all in a few words, In a State of Nature, every Man must rely upon his own single Power; whereas in a Community, all are on his Side: There no Man can be sure of enjoying the Fruit of his Labour; here every one has it secur’d to him: There the Passions rule, and there is a continual Warfare, accompanied with Fears, Want, Sordidness, Solitude, Barbarity, Ignorance, and Brutishness; here Reason governs, and here is Tranquillity, Security, Wealth, Neatness, Society, Elegancy, Knowledge, and Humanity.
X.Uncertainty of the State of Nature.9Now though it was the Will of Nature itself,9 that there should be a Sort of Kindred amongst all Mankind, by Virtue of which they might be obliged at least not to hurt one another, but rather to assist and contribute to the Benefit of their Fellows; yet this Alliance is found to be but of little Force among those who live promiscuously in a State of Natural Liberty; so that any Man who is not under the same Laws and Possibilities of Coercion with our selves, or with whom we live loosely and free from any Obligation in the said State, is not indeed to be treated as an Enemy, but may be look’d upon as a Friend, not too freely to be trusted.L. N. N. l. 1. c. 3. §4. And the Reason hereof is, That Man not only is accomplish’d, with an Ability to do Mischief to his Like, but for many Causes has also a Will so to do: For some, the Pravity of their Natures, Ambition, or Covetousness, incite to make Insults upon other Men; others, though of a meek and modest Nature, are forced to use Violence either in defending themselves from imminent Outrages, or by way of Prevention.
Beside that, a Rivalship in the Desire of the same Thing in some; and in others, Competition for Priority in one Quality or other, shall set them at Variance. So that in this State, ’tis hardly possible but that there should be perpetual Jealousies, Mistrusts, Designs of undoing each other, Eagerness to prevent every one his Fellow, or Hopes of making Addition to his own Strength by the Ruin of others.
Therefore as it is the Duty of every honest Man to be content with his own, and not to give Provocation to his Neighbour, nor to covet that which is his; so also it behoves him who would be as wary as is needful, and who is willing to take Care of his own Good, so to take all Men for his Friends, as not to suppose yet but that the same may quickly become his Enemies; so to cultivate Peace with all Men, as to be provided though it be never so soon changed to Enmity. And for this Reason, happy is that Commonwealth, where in Times of Quietness, Consideration is had of Requisites for War.
XI. Most convenient Remedy in Controversies. L. N. N. l. 5. c. 13.Beside, in the Natural State, if any one either will not voluntarily make good what he has covenanted to do, or does another an Injury, or if upon any other Account some Dispute arise; there’s no Man has Authority to force the naughty Person to perform his Bargain, to cause him to repair the Wrong, or to determine the Controversy; as there is in Communities, where I may have recourse for Help to the Civil Magistrate.
And here, because Nature allows not that upon every Occasion we should betake our selves to violent Means, even though we are very well satisfy’d in our Consciences of the Justice of our Cause; therefore we are first to try, whether the Matter may not be composed after a milder Way, either by an amicable Reasoning of the Point in Question between the Parties themselves, or by a free and unconditional Compromise, * or Reference of the Debate to Arbitrators. And these Referees are to manage the Matter with an equal Regard to both Sides, and in giving their Award, they are to have an Eye only to the Merits of the Cause, setting aside all partial Animosity or Affection. For which Reason, it is not best to chuse any Man an Arbitrator in such a Cause wherein he shall have greater Hopes of Profit or particular Reputation, if one Party get the better, rather than the other; and consequently where it is his Interest that that Litigant, at what Rate soever, gain the Point. Hence also there ought not to be any underhand Bargain or Promise between the Umpire and either of the Parties, by which he may be obliged to give his Judgment on the behalf of the same.
Now in this Affair, if the Arbitrator cannot find out the Truth in Fact, neither from the Confessions of the Parties, nor from apparent Writings, nor any other manifest Arguments and Signs; he must then inform himself by the Testimonies of Witnesses; whom, though the Law of Nature obliges, especially being usually reinforced by the Religion of an Oath, to speak the Truth; yet it is most safe not to admit the Evidence of such as are so peculiarly affected to one Party, that their Consciences will be forced to struggle with the Passions either of Love, Hatred, Desire of Revenge, any violent Affection of the Mind, or else some strict Friendship or Dependance; all, or any of which every Man is not endued with Constancy enough to surmount.
Controversies also are frequently made an end of by the Interposition of the common Friends of each Party, which to do, is deservedly accounted among the best Actions of a good Man. For the rest, in the Natural State, when Performances are not made good by either Side of their own Accord, the other seeks his Due after what manner he likes best.
[1.]Tooke’s rendering of this crucial paragraph differs significantly from Pufendorf’s original. Pufendorf wrote not of duties attaching to a particular state ordained for man by providence, but of those arising from the diverse statuses (ex diverso statu) man occupies in social life. This definitively Pufendorfian viewpoint results from his doctrine that civil duties attach not to a human essence, or telos, but to statuses instituted by man. Silverthorne’s rendering is broadly accurate: “We must next inquire into the duties which fall to man to perform as a result of the different states in which we find him existing in social life. By ‘state’ [status] in general, we mean a condition in which men are understood to be set for the purpose of performing a certain class of actions. Each state also has its own distinctive laws [jura]” (Man & Citizen, p. 115). Only Silverthorne’s choice of “laws” for jura is questionable. Here perhaps Tooke’s “Rights and Offices” better captures the spirit of Pufendorf’s formulation.
[*] See Book I. Chap. III. §3. and the References made to it. [Barbeyrac’s marginal note (a), p. 236.]
[2.]At this point, following Barbeyrac, the English editors have deleted Pufendorf’s characterization of the life of man imagined in the absence of the mutual assistance and industry through which he compensates for his natural weakness (imbecillitas). In Tooke’s original edition the deleted passage runs “especially considering the present circumstances under which we at this time find Human Nature: Which would certainly be much more miserable than that of a Beast, if we think with our selves, with what weakness man enters this World, so that he must immediately perish, except he be sustained by others, and how rude a Life he must lead, if he could procure nothing for himself, but by means of his own single Strength and Skill. But ’tis plain, that we owe it all to the aid of other persons, that we are able to pass through so many Infirmities from our Infancy to Manhood; that we enjoy infinite number of Conveniences; that we improve our Minds and Bodies to such a degree as to be useful to our selves and our Neighbour.” Barbeyrac had ideological misgivings about the bleakness of Pufendorf’s picture of the state of nature, believing that it gives too great a role to the civil state in securing man’s happiness, hence too much power to the civil sovereign.
[3.]In the early modern (Latin) sense of “subject to the authority of another.”
[4.]“The State of Man in a Community” is Tooke’s addition. Pufendorf’s sentence ends at “Civil State.”
[5.]Ovid’s myth of Cadmus, in which men spring from the ground where the dragon’s teeth have been scattered.
[6.]In other words, even today states exist in a state of nature with regard to other states; for the civil condition, with its entire array of duties and rights, is internal to the particular state.
[7.]That is, “states” (civitates). Barbeyrac’s formulation, according to which men gradually bring themselves under Gouvernement Civil (p. 239), is an improvisation on the theme.
[8.]Barbeyrac deleted the following evocation of man’s miserable condition in the state of nature (to the end of the paragraph), his second such deletion. (See note 2, p. 167.) Further, to reinforce his unauthorized intervention, he added a footnote to Pufendorf’s ensuing praise of the civil state, accusing him of exaggerating its virtues. In declining to follow Barbeyrac on this occasion, the English editors perhaps display a degree of detachment from his more intense ideological engagement with Pufendorf’s text.
[9.]In Pufendorf’s original text and in Tooke’s original translation, this important section, on the limited degree to which natural law binds man in the state of nature, was the final one in the chapter (sec. XI). In it, Pufendorf signals his relation to Hobbes’s famous account of the state of nature as the “war of all against all.” Against Hobbes, Pufendorf argues that even in the state of nature men should be bound by the natural law of sociability. In denying that men can in fact live by this law in the absence of civil authority, however, Pufendorf comes close to the Hobbesian viewpoint. If others are natural friends, they are unreliable ones, and in peace we should be prepared for war. In reversing the order of Pufendorf’s final two sections, Barbeyrac prevents this being Pufendorf’s final word on the natural condition.
[*] See Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, lib. 2. cap. 23. §6, &c.