This paper is not to be a philosophical work but a juridical one. In order to keep it such, notwithstanding the abstract character of its subject, I have tried to maintain the connection with the matters of which legal writings usually treat by as many and as concrete examples as possible to illustrate general propositions. I believe that concrete illustrations are often more effective to make a point than a long chain of theoretical deductions. For this reason I have frequently contented myself with simply offering a number of examples to prove some general proposition, trusting that the reader will himself make the theoretical connection between the one and the other. Whether I was right in doing so will depend to a large extent on whether the reader attaches the same degree of importance to actual facts that I do. Right here at the start I think it advisable to lay stress on the purely positivistic character of my work, just because it is intended primarily for lawyers. For no class of men are so much inclined as lawyers to adopt a teleological mode of thinking, to postulate, to reform, and in all sorts of ways to lose sight of the facts as they actually are. The purpose of this paper, however, is solely to examine and describe facts as they are. The fine maxim, "Je ne propose rien, je ne suppose rien, j'expose," must be the first principle of scientific inquiry.
Being a work of general juridical nature this paper properly ought to be classifiable with no particular branch of the law. Yet it is most closely connected with private law and draws from this most of its illustrations. This is because in this branch the specifically juridical manner of thinking has been most distinctly elaborated by the labor of many centuries; because in this branch a theory of juridical thought (in connection with the administration and interpretation of the law) has actually been established, although it has proved to be insufficient; and further because in private law (and also in penal law) it is admitted that the legal mode of thought is exclusively applicable. In this field, judgments are to be based exclusively on legal rules and legal reasons, never on grounds of policy or other considerations. Closely allied to this principle there is the fiction that the legal rules actually existing are sufficient to decide all contested cases, provided only that they are applied in proper legal manner.2
I have called this paper a study. It does not purport to comprehend uniformly all phases of juridical thought, nor is it intended to be a systematic treatise on the administration of the law. It deals merely with a few important but sorely neglected aspects of the subject. This involves necessarily a certain one-sidedness of presentation. The new illustrative material takes up the greater portion of space. This, however, I consider a lesser defect than the absence of concreteness which would have been caused by any different method. For this book is not intended for inexperienced persons who might be misled at once to draw premature consequences and make hasty "demands" on the basis of my statements, notwithstanding the qualifications with which they are made. It is intended for those who are able themselves to place the new data into proper relations with their own previous experience and the traditional theory.