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Concept of Jurisprudence

J(caps)urisprudence is a science that studies law. It is also referred to as a systematic and scientific study of law. The term Jurisprudence has been derived from the Latin word “Jurisprudentia” in which “Juris” means law and “prundentia” means skill and knowledge.

Jurisprudence possesses the following topics:

  • Evolution of law
  • Lawmaking process in the society
  • Philosophy of law
  • Definitions of law
  • Sources  of law
Table of Content (toc)

Definitions of Jurisprudence (By various Jurist)

Ulpian: 

Jurisprudence is the knowledge of things, human and divine, the science of just and unjust.

Cicero: 

Jurisprudence is the philosophical aspect of the knowledge of the law.

Dias: 

Jurisprudence deals with the structure, use and functioning of law and legal concepts.

Paton: 

Jurisprudence is the particular method of study not of the law of one country but of the study of the general nation of law itself, it is a study relating to law.

Gray: 

Jurisprudence is the science of law, the statement and systematic arrangement of the rules followed by the counts and the principle involved in these rules.

Salmond: 

Jurisprudence is the science of the first principles of civil law.

Austin: 

Jurisprudence is the philosophy of positive law.

Holland: 

Jurisprudence is the formal science of positive law.

Roscoe Pound: 

Jurisprudence is a science of social engineering, an idea of giving the most complete security and effect to the whole scheme of human demands and desire which are pressing for recognition with the least sacrifice, least fiction and least waste.

CK Allen: 

Jurisprudence is the scientific synthesis of all the essential principles of law.

Prof. Julius Stone: 

Jurisprudence is the science for the study of law in the social and economic context of society and such study can be done by lawyers.

Scope of Jurisprudence:

  • It gives an understanding of the nature of law.
  • It helps in the study of the actual rules and in tracing out principles underlying therein.
  • It helps in making a scientific development of law.
  • It develops the critical faculties of the mind and gives the proper understanding of legal expressions and terminologies.
  • It throws light on the basic ideas and the fundamental principles of law in a given society.
  • It helps Judges and lawyers in ascertaining the meaning of words and expression in statutes.
  • Jurisprudence supplies an epistemology of law, a theory as to the possibility of genuine knowledge in the legal sphere.

Types of Jurisprudence:

a. Particular and General Jurisprudence (Austin)

→ Particular (National) Jurisprudence is the one which studies one particular legal system of law or a portion of thereof whereas General (Universal or Theoretical or Comparative) Jurisprudence is concerned with the description of such subjects and ends of laws which are common to all legal systems, which are discerned in the common nature of man.


b. Expository and censorial Jurisprudence.

→ Bentham divided Jurisprudence as expository and censorial Jurisprudence.

→ Expository Jurisprudence studies what law is.

→ Censorial Jurisprudence studies what law ought to be. 

According to him, expository Jurisprudence can be further divided into:

Authoritative Jurisprudence: 

→ It studies laws by the given legislative power.

Unauthoritative Jurisprudence: 

→ Jurisprudence also called universal jurisprudence studies rules of law from unauthoritative sources such as textbooks, morals and religion etc.

General and specific Jurisprudence:

→ Salmond classifies Jurisprudence into general and specific. In a generic sense, Salmond defines jurisprudence as the science of civil law. And in a specific sense, he defined it as the science of the first principle of civil law.

→ Generic Jurisprudence includes the entire body of legal doctrines whereas specific jurisprudence means only a particular department of such doctrines.

The Jurisprudence in a generic sense includes:

  1. Legal exposition: It sets forth the contents of an actual legal system as existing at any time, whether past or present.
  2. Legal history: It sets forth a historical process whereby any legal system came to be what it is or what it was.
  3. The science of legislation: It sets forth the law, not as it is or has been but as it ought to be. It deals with the future of the legal system.

Types of Jurisprudence


In a specific sense,

  1. Analytical Jurisprudence: It analyses the first principles of law without reference either to their historical origin or development or to their ethical significance or validity.
  2. Historical Jurisprudence: It deals with the general principles governing the origin and development of law.
  3. Ethical Jurisprudence: It deals with the law from the points of view of its ethical significance and adequacy. It concerns the purpose of the legal system.

Significance and Utility of the Study of Jurisprudence:

1. This subject has its own intrinsic interest and value because this is a subject of serious scholarship and research; researchers in Jurisprudence contribute to the development of society by having repercussion in the whole legal, political and social school of thoughts. One of the tasks of this subject is to construct and elucidate concepts serving to render the complexities of law more manageable and more rational. It is the belief of this subject that the theory can help to improve practice.

2. Jurisprudence also has an educational value. It helps in the logical analysis of the legal concepts and it sharpens the logical techniques of the lawyer. The study of Jurisprudence helps to combat the lawyer’s occupational view of formalism which leads to excessive concentration on legal rules for their own sake and disregard of the social function of the law.

3. The study of Jurisprudence helps to put the law in its proper context by considering the needs of the society and by taking note of the advances in related and relevant disciplines.

4. Jurisprudence can teach the people to look if not forward, at least sideways and around them and realize that answers to a new problem must be found by a consideration of present social needs and not in the wisdom of the past.

5. Jurisprudence is the eye of law and the grammar of law because it throws light on basic ideas and fundamental principles of law. Therefore, by understanding the nature of law, its concepts and distinctions, a lawyer can find out the actual rule of law. It also helps in knowing the language, grammar, the basis of treatment and assumptions upon which the subject rests. Therefore, some logical training is necessary for a lawyer which he can find from the study of Jurisprudence.

Importance of Jurisprudence

6. It trains the critical faculties of the mind of the students so that they can dictate fallacies and use accurate legal terminology and expression.

7. It helps a lawyer in his practical work. A lawyer always has to tackle new problems every day. Thus, he can handle his knowledge of Jurisprudence which trains his mind to find alternative legal channels of thought.

8. Jurisprudence helps the lawyers in ascertaining the true meaning of the laws passed by the legislators by providing the rules of interpretation. Therefore, the study of Jurisprudence should not be confined to the study of positive laws but also must include normative study i.e. that study should deal with the improvement of law in the context of prevailing socio-economic and political philosophies of time, place and circumstances. Prof. Dias said that “the study of Jurisprudence is an opportunity for the lawyer to bring theory and life into focus, for it concerns human thought in relation to social existence”.

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