Kelsen and his Pure theory of Law

Author: Sushant Rochlani

At the age of three, Kelsen’s family, of German-speaking, Jewish and middle-class origins, moved to Vienna, where Kelsen pursued his academic studies. In 1906 he was awarded a doctorate in law, even though his lifelong interests were largely concentrated in the humanistic and classical fields (philosophy, literature, logic, but also mathematics and natural science). His passion for knowledge in these areas however clearly exercised an important influence on much of his work throughout his life.

Although Kelsen was resolutely agnostic, he converted to Catholicism in 1905 in an attempt to avoid integration problems. His particular concern was to ensure that his ambition to lecture at university would not be jeopardized by his family’s religious background. Unfortunately, this solution did not prove to be very useful. Indeed, Kelsen’s Jewish ancestry caused him serious difficulties on many occasions, right until his decision to emigrate. The year 1905 was also notable for the publication of Kelsen’s first book, Die Staatslehre des Dante Alighieri. In 1908, he attended a seminar in Heidelberg led by Georg Jellinek, an authority in public law. In 1911 Kelsen qualified as a teacher in public law and philosophy of law at the University of Vienna with his first major work, Hauptprobleme der Staatsrechtslehre, a 700-page study on the theory of public law. In 1914 he established and edited the Austrian Journal of Public Law (three volumes). Continue reading “Kelsen and his Pure theory of Law”