Document Type

Book Review


Book Review: The Province and Function of Law, 59 Yale Law Journal 177 (1949)


IN the maze of currents and cross-currents that characterize contemporary
writing on jurisprudence and legal philosophy there are not many points on
which common agreement can be found. But one point on which representatives
of the most widely disparate views might agree is that Julius Stone has
provided us with the best general introduction to jurisprudence that has yet
appeared in the English language. This is not to say that Stone has a keener
mind or a more fertile imagination or a more felicitous style or a broader
scholarship than Austin, Maine, Holmes or Pound. But jurisprudence, despite
all the battle-cries and advertisements of the conflicting schools, is a
cumulative enterprise like science or music. It is possible for a rational being
to grasp the varied insights that Austin, Maine, Holmes, Pound, and many
other original thinkers during the past two or three thousand years have contributed to our understanding of law. In science, it is not necessary to reject
Euclidean geometry in order to make use of the non-Euclidean geometries of
Riemann or Lobachewsky; we can, and do, use all three in different contexts.
Just so, one may enjoy Bach and Wagner, or Homer and Swinburne, on the
same evening. It is Stone's great merit that he has not accepted the popular
picture of legal philosophy as a bad play wherein each actor kills off all his
predecessors on the stage. Nor has Stone followed the practice made standard
by his revered teacher and one time colleague, Roscoe Pound, of pigeon-holing
each legal thinker within a particular century, country, and school, explaining
how he got into that particular pigeon-hole, and passing on quickly to the next
pigeon-hole. Rather, he has had the insight to appreciate the character of legal
philosophy (and of philosophy generally) as a great cooperative human enterprise stretching across many generations, a continuous and cumulative exploration of possible perspectives through which life's many-faceted problems
can be viewed. This quality of intellectual tolerance or catholicity that permeates
Stone's appreciation of what other thinkers have tried to say is rare
enough in contemporary jurisprudence, and important enough for the jurisprudence of the future, to warrant more attention than any of the particular
insights which brighten the 982 pages and 3,156 or more footnotes of this

Date of Authorship for this Version



jurisprudence, legal philosophy