Regular States vs. Systems of States

  • Samuel Pufendorf


2. It should also be observed that most writers who have discussed political science have concerned themselves with explaining the regular forms of commonwealths, while many have apparently not even thought of irregular forms, and only a few have touched upon them in a perfunctory manner. Hence it was that if there ever was found a civil body which did not square with one of those three forms which are commonly called simple, scarcely any other name was left for it than that of a mixed state. And yet, not to mention the fact that such a designation is imperfectly applicable to some commonwealths, it is naïve indeed to hold that, besides those three regular forms, there are no other irregular ones. For even were it true that the laws of architecture require some certain type of buildings, not all men have constructed their dwellings by those laws. We hold that the regularity of states lies in this: that each and every one of them appears to be directed by a single soul, as it were, or, in other words, that the supreme sovereignty, without division and opposition, is exercised by one will in all the parts of a state, and in all its undertakings. From this it is not difficult to gather what an irregular state is. Furthermore, there are also systems made up of several perfect states, which, in the eyes of those who are not versed in these matters, assume the false form of one state; and these also must have their place in our explanation of the forms of commonwealths.


Perfect State Regular State Regular Form Single City Form Alone 
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© Dimitrios Karmis and Wayne Norman 2005

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  • Samuel Pufendorf

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