Definition of Jurisprudence in Law in its widest sense means, “knowledge of the law”. But in its limited sense evolution and explanation of general principles upon which actual rules of law are based. It is mainly concerned with the rules of external conduct which people are compelled to obey.
Therefore sometimes it is said that jurisprudence is that science which gives us knowledge about “law” but the term law we always use in its abstract sense i.e. not in the sense of concrete statutes but in the sense of principles underlying law.
For example, there are various branches of law existing in the modern legal system such as contract, crime, trust, properties, companies, labour etc. In jurisprudence, we have to study the basic principles of each of these branches and we are not concerned with the detailed rules of these laws.
Definition of Jurisprudence in Law
The definition of jurisprudence in law is very difficult to define. However, several attempts were made in this context to define the term “Jurisprudence”. Some of the definitions of the term “jurisprudence” given by various eminent jurists as given below;
The definition of jurisprudence is defined by the jurist Austin as “the philosophy of positive law”.
Austin was the first jurist to make jurisprudence a science. Further, he opines that the appropriate subject to the jurisprudence is a positive law i.e. law as it is existing law.
In simple words, jurisprudence is not a moral philosophy but it is a scientific and systematic study of the existing, actual and positive law that has been distinguished from natural, ideal and moral laws.
However, Austin divided jurisprudence into two classes viz. ‘General Jurisprudence’ and ‘Particular Jurisprudence’ General jurisprudence is the philosophy of the positive law and particular jurisprudence is the science of any such system of the positive direction as not actually obtained or once actually obtained in a precisely determined nation or specifically determined nations.
The jurist Holland also defined the term jurisprudence as ‘the jurisprudence is the formal science of positive law.’ Many eminent jurists have criticized the definition of jurisprudence propagated by Holland.
According to Holland, jurisprudence should only concern itself with the basic principles of the concepts underlying any natural system of law.
Holland explains that by the term ‘formal’ he means that jurisprudence concerns itself with the human relations which are governed by the rules of law rather than the material rules themselves, for the latter are the subject of the legal exposition, criticism or compilation rather than jurisprudence.
Salmond has defined the term ‘Jurisprudence’ as ‘the jurisprudence is the science of the first principle of the civil law.’ According to Salmond, jurisprudence can be classified into two categories i.e. the ‘generic sense’ and ‘specific sense.’
In the generic sense, jurisprudence can be defined as the ‘Science of Civil Law’. And, in a specific sense, jurisprudence can be defined as ‘The science of the first principal of civil law.’
According to Cicero, It is a philosophical aspect of knowledge of the law.
Keeton defined jurisprudence as ‘The study and systematic arrangement of the general principles of law.’
Jurisprudence is defined by Dean Roscoe Pound as ‘the science of law using the term law in the juridical sense, as denoting the body of the principles recognized or enforced by the public and regular tribunals in the administration of justice.’
According to jurist K.C. Allen, jurisprudence is the scientific synthesis of all the essential principles of law.
As per the definition of jurisprudence propagated by Julius Stone, it is defined as ‘Jurisprudence is the lawyers’ extra version’. Further stated that it is the lawyer’s examination of the precepts, ideals and techniques of the law in the light derived from the present knowledge in disciplines other than the law.
Jurisprudence is a particular method of study, not the law of one country, but of the general motion of law itself.
According to John Gray, jurisprudence is the science of law, the statement and systematic arrangement of the rules followed by the courts and the principals involved in those rules.’
Ulpian is the Roman jurist and defined jurisprudence as ‘it is the knowledge of things divine and human, the science of just and unjust.’
Jurisprudence is a study of fundamental legal principles including their philosophical, historical and sociological bases and analysis of legal concepts.
Definition of jurisprudence by the various jurists is being discussed in this article. Many eminent jurists have stated the definitions of jurisprudence.