The study of jurisprudence started with the Romans.The term Jurisprudence is derived from Latin word 'Jurisprudentia' which means either "Knowledge of Law" or "Skill of law". The word "juris" means law and prudentia mean knowledge, science or skill.  Thus Jurisprudence signifies knowledge or science of law and its application. In this sense, Jurisprudence covers the whole body of legal principles in the world.

1) Jurisprudence: Meaning:

                     Jurisprudence 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 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. Thus, 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. We definitely study these laws in detail when we study those branches of law separately. Jurisprudence examines the general principles of law, therefore, Jurisprudence may be considered to be the study and systematic arrangements of the general principles of law.

2) Definition of Jurisprudence:

         It is very difficult to define term 'jurisprudence', However, several attempts were made in this context to define the term.  Some of the definitions of the term "jurisprudence" given by various eminent jurists as under -

I) Austin :

                     Austin was the first jurist to make jurisprudence as a science. He defines 'jurisprudence' as "the philosophy of positive law." He opines that the appropriate subject to jurisprudence is a positive law i.e. law as it is (existing law). In other words, jurisprudence is not a moral philosophy but it is a scientific and systematic study of the existing, actual and positive law has distinguished from natural, ideal or moral law.

              Austin divides jurisprudence into two classes. Viz 'general Jurisprudence and Particular Jurisprudence. According to him 'General Jurisprudence is the philosophy of positive law. On the other hand 'particular jurisprudence is the science of any such system of positive law as now actually obtains or once actually obtained in a specifically determined nation or specifically determined nations.


             Austin's definition criticised by Salmond and Holland and other Jurists on the ground that it is not proper and appropriate to classify as the general Jurisprudence and Particular Jurisprudence.

II) Holland: 

            An English Jurist Sir Thomas Erskine Holland defines, Jurisprudence as, " Jurisprudence is the formal science of positive law'"  According to him jurisprudence should only concern itself with the basic principles of concepts underlying in any natural system of law.


           Many eminent jurists have criticised the definition of Holland that jurisprudence is the formal science of positive law. It is not free from defects. The question arises what is a formal science?   Holland himself explains that by the term 'formal' he means that jurisprudence concerns itself with human relations which are governed by the rules of law rather than the material rules themselves, for the latter are the subject of legal exposition, criticism or compilation rather than jurisprudence.

III) Salmond: 

         Salmond defines Jurisprudence as, " Jurisprudence is the science of the first principle of the civil law."

        According to Salmond Jurisprudence can be defined in two senses (1) in the 'Generic Sense' jurisprudence can be defined as Science of Civil Law' and (2) in the 'Specific sense' Jurisprudence can be defined as the science of the first principle of civil law.

       The Civil law consists of rules applied by Courts in the administration of Justice. Salmond agrees with both Austin and Holland only to the extent that jurisprudence is 'a science, a systematic study of basic principles of legal systems. 

Criticism :

          Salmond's Definition has been criticised on the ground that he has narrowed down the field of jurisprudence by saying that it is a science of civil law and hence covers only particular legal system.

IV) Keeton:

            Keeton Defines jurisprudence as " the study and systematic arrangement of the general principles of law.

V) Roscoe Pound:

               Dean Roscoe Pound defines jurisprudence as " the science of law, using the term law in the juridical sense, as denoting the body of principles recognised or enforced by public and regular tribunals in the administration of justice".

VI) Dr K. C. Allen:

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

VII) G.W. Paton:
                 Jurisprudence is a particular method of study, not the law of one country, but of the general notion of law itself.

VIII) Julius Stone:

                 "Jurisprudence is the lawyer's extraversion. It is the lawyer's examination of the precepts, ideals and techniques of the law in the light derived from present knowledge in disciplines other than the law.

IX) Gray :

      According to John Chipman Gray " jurisprudence is the science of law, the statement and systematic arrangement of the rules followed by the Court and the principles involved in those rules."


               Stone has Criticised Gray's Definition and said that Gray has failed to determine any province of jurisprudence rather he has reduced jurisprudence to merely a matter of arrangement of rules.

X) Ulpian: 

                Ulpian a Roman Jurist  defines jurisprudence as " Jurisprudence is the knowledge of things divine and human, the science of just and unjust." 

XI) Dr M.J. Sethna: 

                Jurisprudence is a study of fundamental legal principles including their philosophical, Historical and sociological bases and analysis of legal concepts.

XII) H.L.A Hart: 

                 A legal system consists of primary and secondary rules. These rules explain the nature of law and provides key to the science of jurisprudence. He viewed  Jurisprudence as a science of law in a border perspective by co-relating law and morality.

                  From the above definitions of Jurisprudence, it could be seen that there is no commonly agreed definition of Jurisprudence. Each Jurist guided by his own consciences but since the conception of the term law till the beginning of the 20th century, a new approach to the study of law in relation to society is given. Some jurist, therefore, treats law as "social engineering" an instrument to bring social change. Thus the function of law is the supplement to social sciences.

See also : 

 Scope of Jurisprudence 

Analytical School of Jurisprudence 


  1. The first phase the preparation should, theoretically, be uninfluenced by the intended intensity and duration of the sound which is subsequently produced. In fact, however, so quickly are the three phases accomplished that the pianist rarely has capacity to think, in performance, of each phase separately. citizenship

  2. The first phase the preparation should, theoretically, be uninfluenced by the intended intensity and duration of the sound which is subsequently produced. In fact, however, so quickly are the three phases accomplished that the pianist rarely has capacity to think, in performance, of each phase separately. citizenship

  3. I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good.Thanks alot! new orleans small business attorneys


See Also..