Individual and Social in L.I. Petrazhitsky's Philosophy of Law

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Along with competing legal concepts of positivism and gnoseologism in the second half of the 19th century, a direction of legal psychology was formed, within which the psychological theory of law by the Russian and Polish lawyer L.I. Petrazhitsky takes a prominent place. L.I. Petrazhitsky's legal theory interprets the law as a mental phenomenon in a person's mind. The mental life forms the internal and external legal behavior. Studying the law becomes possible only by analyzing the subject's particular kind of emotional life - legal experience. Our focus on the individual's emotional world gives us reason to think of the theory as individualistic, i.e., close to the subject's mental life. At the same time, the Russian lawyer's psychological doctrine also gains explanatory potential for scrutinizing social life. It contains ideas that reveal such mechanisms of social functioning as the affirmation of the ideal of love as the ultimate goal of law-making, the priority of unofficial law in the life of society, and a specific interpretation of public and private law. The system of legal emotions is carried out on the social niveau and establishes such values as love and social order. The article reconstructs the main provisions of Petrazhitsky's psychological theory of law from the point of view of the interaction of its individual and social sides. The social potential of the Russian lawyer's theory appears capable of supplementing and explaining the ideas of socialism and sobornost discussed widely at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Petrazhitsky's individualistic doctrine appears as a flexible concept, capable of fitting organically into various philosophical and sociological contexts.

About the authors

Leonid Yu. Kornilaev

Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

Author for correspondence.

PhD (philosophy), Research Fellow, Academia Kantiana

14, Aleksandra Nevskogo st., Kaliningrad, 236016, Russian Federation


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