Researchers Contact Information

The Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights
Faculty of Law
P.O. BOX 4
FI-00014 UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI
Tel: +358 (0)29 4123140

intlaw-institute(at)helsinki.fi

Walter Rech

    Walter RechPhoto by Veikko Somerpuro

    International Law and the Philosophy of History

    In the early eighteenth century, European scholars began to regard the history of mankind as inherently rational and guided by an immanent teleology the meaning of which no longer depended on the existence or intervention of God. Even a few purportedly orthodox writers then seemed to admit the hypothesis that the history of mankind – as produced by human action – would remain entirely rational and intelligible to man ‘even if God did not exist’, as Grotius had put it with reference to the inherent rationality of natural law. In the period 1720-1820, in particular, authors like Giambattista Vico, Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel laid the basis for an innovative and potentially secular conception of history that gradually replaced traditional eschatology, biblical history, and the humanist view of history as a provider of exempla of righteous and expedient conduct. The project aims to demonstrate that this innovative reflection on the ends of history brought about a major paradigm shift in the broader doctrine of the law of nations, and greatly contributed to the legitimation of international law as a rational and practical science leading to the moral and material progress of mankind.