Samuel von Pufendorf

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Pufendorf, Samuel von


Born Jan. 8, 1632, in Dorf-chemnitz; died Oct. 2, 1694, in Berlin. Representative of the 17th-century Enlightenment in Germany.

Pufendorf taught at a number of Western European universities and occupied the first chair of natural law in Europe, which was established at the University of Heidelberg. He lived in Sweden for many years, where he taught at the University of Lund.

Pufendorf accepted the concepts of natural law elaborated by H. Grotius and T. Hobbes, but he interpreted these concepts from the point of view of the German bourgeoisie, which was incapable of waging a decisive struggle against feudalism. He spoke out against theological scholasticism and against intervention by the church in affairs of state, and he criticized the “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.” At the same time, however, he justified the existence of absolutism and considered slavery and serfdom to be legitimate phenomena. Pufendorf is the author of many works on jurisprudence and history. Most of them were written in Latin and later translated into various European languages.


Elementorum jurisprudence universalis libri duo. The Hague, 1660.
De jure naturae et gentium, libri octo. Lund, 1672.
In Russian translation:
Vvedenie v istoriiu evropeiskuiu. … St. Petersburg, 1718 (reissued, St. Petersburg, 1723).
O dolzhnosti cheloveka i grazhdanina po zakonu estestvennomu …. St. Petersburg, 1726.


Istoriia politicheskikh uchenii. Moscow, 1960. Pages238–42.
References in periodicals archive ?
In the course of his presentation the Catholic spokesman cited the natural-law theories of Hugo Grotius and Samuel Puffendorf, two influential seventeenth-century Protestant thinkers, as examples of efforts to find in human reason a basis on which citizens of divergent religions might agree.