I have recently indicated my profound, immeasurable gratitude for the possibility of reading Valentin Tomberg’s two Catholic studies on Jurisprudence in English. I feel I should extend this same gratitude to the translator, Gabriele R. Jabouri, whose work of translation for the Anglophone world of course, I cannot help but also judge of profound and immeasurable significance …
Today, just a few indications as to why I think this. These Catholic writings on jurisprudence really cover so much ground. Although the title of the first volume Degeneration and Regeneration of Jurisprudence is perhaps the more indicative of the content of both works, it becomes clear to the attentive reader that the author, in the horror of World War II, is seeking nothing less than the regeneration of world civilisation.
For as he makes endeavours to make clear, these two things – healing of jurisprudence and healing of civilisation – are mutually interdependent:
The task of the administration of justice is therefore the realisation of a just legal system i.e. the liberation of jurisprudence and administration of justice from their national limitations and dependencies, as well as every favouritism of one class at the expense of another, and the continuously increasing progressive protection and promotion of such spiritual values which unite humanity via the path of freedom and freedom of beliefs into a community with a common conception of the world and the ideal.
And how is such an apparently utopian ideal to be realised? To understand Tomberg’s answer to that question, these books – from his doctoral and post-doctoral theses – need to be fathomed.
Here in this internet review we can hardly do that – one can only indicate that for Tomberg it a matter of:
A total question of human culture – and one has to give a total answer i.e. an answer which considers the totality of the question and points out a legal system for humanity suitable to save and preserve humanity´s culture and to enable its future development for it is in mortal peril.
And that this “total answer” involves rescuing all of jurisprudence and indeed all of civilisation from a current of degeneration over centuries which resulted in splitting.
This is to say both a splitting of the phenomenal from the noumenal and a concomitant splitting of related fields into a denying specialisation, which Tomberg argues can only herald degeneration and decay:
“Jurisprudence has lost a great deal by falling prey to the guidance of the separating current; first it was separated from religion, then from morality and philosophy. Its individual branches (private law, criminal law, administrative law , state law, international law, canon law etc.) are also increasingly about to become separate from one another.
All this despite the fact that jurisprudence owes the nature of its concepts to religion, the methods to work with them to idealistic philosophy and the application of the concepts themselves to a practical development that is over two and a half thousand years old. And for over two thousand years of this time, it was part of an organic whole.
What has been gained by adopting this striving towards separation, towards parting, as a guiding current?
Loss of the ideals, loss of the method of moral, basic thinking, mechanisation of concepts – and as a consequence, a lack of true seriousness, superficiality: These are the fruits of separation from the ground which brought forth jurisprudence, and from which it took its life force and substance. It must continue to take them from there, so as not to wither and die.
It is thus argued as necessary to work as Tomberg endeavours:
The way of union of all which belongs together according to its nature. We will treat law as inseperable from justice; justice in its turn as an inseperable part of morality; and morality as united with its ideals and tasks, i.e. religion. (Bold emphasis above belongs to the author, italics are my own).
Now to do all this any kind of justice, Tomberg’s work needs to be – again I say – fathomed. But in such fathoming, one may discover a kind of working here of exceptional rarity: a kind of moral argument, filled with respect for the freedom of the reader (and thus free of propaganda and manipulation) which nonetheless involves an effort towards encouraging a raising of consciousness in the reader.
(Or at least, I myself, must certainly endeavour to raise my own level of consciousness to ascend the heights contained within these works!) leading to an appreciation of stunning new vistas …
At least, such indicates my own experience. Stunning new vistas have opened up for me …
Some of these involve the moral obligation to protect spiritual culture and what that obligation necessarily entails.
Others involve the nature of the Catholic Church to which Valentin Tomberg converted as a result of the moral considerations and processes that are testified to in these writings. These writings which, again, are all to do with preserving humanity’s culture from “mortal peril” …