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Ere Nokkala
From Natural Law to Political Economy: J.H.G. von Justi on State, Commerce and International Order
Reihe: Geschichte
Bd. 158, 2019, 312 S., 34.90 EUR, 34.90 CHF, br., ISBN 978-3-643-91035-6


This book is the first comprehensive interpretation of the political and international thought of one of the greatest German political writers of the eighteenth-century, Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi (1717-1771). By revisiting his conceptions of natural law, happiness, the state, universal monarchy, the balance of power and international order the study reveals a much more original and diverse thinker than has previously been assumed. Building on ideas of a passionate human nature, Justi effected a passage from natural law to political economy that took into account the development of commercialism. The book firmly situates Justi in the German Enlightenment, and the German Enlightenment in a broader European context.

Ph. D. Ere Nokkala is Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow at Lichtenberg-Kolleg, The Göttingen Institute of Advanced Study. His main areas of interest are the history of European political thought and conceptual history.

Ere Nokkala´s book “From Natural Law to Political Economy: J H G von Justi on State, Commerce and International Order” is the first comprehensive intellectual biography of one of the most important “Cameralist” writers in 18th century Germany. Nokkala provides a refreshingly new analysis of the complexities of Justi´s political and economic thinking, based as it was on the discourse of Natural Rights originating with Thomasius, Pufendorf and Hobbes. Justi is convincingly shown to be no mere doctrinaire follower of contemporary Cameralist discourse. Nokkala´s principal contribution is central not only to an understanding of Justi’s real significance, but also for insight into the development of political economy in Germany during the 18th century. – Lars Magnusson, Professor and Chair in Economic History, Uppsala University, Sweden

Justi was a protean figure of the German Enlightenment, a projector whose enterprise spanned academia and court politics, linking Vienna to Göttingen, and both to the Prussia of Friedrich II. Cutting and pasting his own work to earn a living from his writing, this became so extensive that no previous scholar has been able to arrive at a satisfactory overall assessment of its significance. Ere Nokkala has an unrivalled knowledge of Justi’s writings, and a mastery of the contemporary context in which his arguments were made. He is on this basis able to offer an original account of the sheer novelty of Justi’s work that represents a major advance in our understanding of the many forces shaping European culture and politics in the mid-eighteenth century. – Keith Tribe

Ere Nokkala’s “From Natural Law to Political Economy: J.H. G. von Justi on State, Commerce and International Order” sets a bold new horizon for a contextual intellectual biography of an important but hitherto neglected German Enlightenment political philosopher. It reflects, enhances and refines recent scholarly interest in the political dimension of the Enlightenment in Germany. In addition, its theoretical sophistication and nuanced textual analysis shed new light on both the unity and the diversity of the Enlightenment process in Europe. – Hans Erich Bödeker





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