The word Jurisprudence is sometimes used as a synonym of 'Law'. But Jurisprudence is a method of multidimensional study of the general notion of law. In law, there are rules to be found but in Jurisprudence, it is the justification of the rules that matters the most.
The word Jurisprudence is derived from the Latin word "Jurisprudentia", which is made of two words "Juris" which means legal and "Prudentia" which means Knowledge. So we can say that Jurisprudence is the Science of Law.
Salmond gave 2 meanings of Jurisprudence:
Narrow meaning: This means the Science of the first Principles of law.
Broader meaning: This means the entire body of legal doctrine. It is the ‘science of civil law’.
Authors like Finch are of the opinion that Jurisprudence cannot be defined with precision. According to Salmond,
“Jurisprudence is the name given to a certain type of investigation into a law, an investigation of an abstract, general and theoretical nature which seeks to lay bare the essential principles of law and the legal system.”
Whereas according to Roscoe pound Jurisprudence is “A consideration of the ethical and social merits of legal rules.”
Different definitions help to understand the meaning from different points of view. Every definition is not complete in itself; they are merely an approximation to the detail and depth of its subject matter.
Nature of Jurisprudence
Jurisprudence analyzes legal concepts. It also tries to find out the essential principles of law. It not only analyzes the rules which are already known but it also analyzes and sets the foundation of new rules. It is a result of the thinking of Jurists and philosophers. They are having the freedom to access, analyze and speculate about the legal system. So, it can be said as an intellectual exercise which is having no immediate practical application. It sets the tone for a reformation of the law.
Jurisprudence links laws with other disciplines like psychology, politics, economics etc. Its scope is always changing. It is not derived from any act of parliament or state assembly. Lord Tennyson calls it, “Lawless subject of law”. Various concepts like Origin of law, need of the law, the utility of the law are studied by various Jurists. This study of concepts of law is called Jurisprudence.
What is the Significance of Jurisprudence?
Jurisprudence provides solutions for the multidimensional problems of law. It helps in the overall progress of society. It increases the lawyer’s ability to think logically. It gives philosophy, ethics, and morality in the lawyer’s skills which makes them forward-looking. There are many times when there are gaps in the laws, during those times Judges follow the Jurisprudence. Jurisprudence is the theoretical basis of the law and without it, practical application of the law is not possible. It also helps in the linking of psychology, sociology, economics, politics and anthropology to the law. The study of Jurisprudence encourages them to ask critical questions and apply their knowledge for a wider understanding of the nature of law and its relevance. The study of Jurisprudence is essential to become good lawyers.
Various schools of Jurisprudence
Jurisprudence provides the platform for the Jurists to apply their Knowledge for better laws in society. There are various schools of law which are provided by Jurists all around the world. According to Salmond Jurisprudence can be studied in 3 ways: Legal description, Legal History and the science of legislation. The legal description describes Imperative or analytical Jurisprudence. Legal history describes the Historical process of Jurisprudence and Science of legislation describes philosophical Jurisprudence which talks about Law as it is, not what it ought to be. Salmond misses modern sociological approach of Jurisprudence.
Let’s understand in brief about various schools of Jurisprudence:
1 Natural /Philosophical law school: It is largely hypothetical and is based on assumptions like nature or God as the source of law for conduct and morality. It is the contribution of Indians, Greeks and Romans. This school is also described as ethical or metaphysical Jurisprudence. Various Jurists of this school are Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Stammler, Kohler and John Rawls etc.
2 Analytical/Positive law school: It is purely based on legal rules. According to Salmond, this school of law analyze without reference to the historical origin or ethical significance. It examines the law in a scientific manner which is independent of morals or ethical elements. Sir Henry Maine named it ‘analytical’ whereas other jurists Allen is of the view that it should be called as an imperative theory of law as it emanates from a supreme authority. John Austin is the father of Analytical school of law.
3 Historical law school: It understands law from a historical point of view. It is different from legal history as it explains the different changes and the reasons behind those changes. It is made popular in Germany by Savigny who was the founder of this law school. There are other Jurists like Henry Maine, Holdsworth and Paul Vinogradoff who contributed to this school of law.
4 Sociological law school: It understands the law as an agency of social control. It tries to provide a balance between individual and social needs in order to achieve maximum satisfaction and minimum friction. It is like mechanical engineering which tries to achieve high productivity with the least waste. This method is also described as the science of social engineering. There are various Jurists who adopted this method like Roscoe pound, Ihering, Ehrlich.
5 Comparative law school: As the name says it compares the differences and similarities between two or more legal systems. It studies the different social, economic and legal structure of different societies to find out common legal postulates of different schools of study. It tries to find a solution to the different problems faced by law schools. So we can say it compares the doctrines and postulates of a different school. Savigny adopted this school for studying law and various institutions of Rome, Germany and France. Other Jurists are Henry Maine, Jerome Hall, and Harold Hoffding etc.
There are various methods of Jurisprudence which are applied for the study of law as a whole. There is no school of law which is complete in itself. Different schools of law give different methods of study of law which exposes one another to give a better theory of law which can be applied in different circumstances. Analytical school focused on the law as it is and overlooked the moral aspect of law. Whereas the Historical school of law missed the understanding of law as an instrument of social control.
There are different methods for the study of law but their purpose is the same which is to understand the basic principles of law and legal study.