Saturday, August 1, 2009

Monograph Paper #3 Immanuel Kant

Hammurabi’s code

Fourth Thesis: The means employed by Nature to bring about the development of all the capacities of men is their antagonism in society, so far as this is, in the end, the cause of a lawful order among men. (Kant 1784)

The Seven Examples of Code of Hammurabi

1. If any one ensnares another, putting a ban upon him, but he cannot prove it, then he that ensnared him shall be put to death.

2. If any one brings an accusation against a man, and the accused goes to the river and leaps into the river, if he sinks in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river proves that the accused is not guilty, and he escapes unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser.

3. If any one brings an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if a capital offense is charged, be put to death.

4. If a Builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.

5. If a man gives his child to a nurse and the child dies in her hands, but the nurse unbeknown to the father and mother nurses another child, then they shall convict her of having nursed another child without the knowledge of the father and mother and her breasts shall be cut off.

6. If any one steals the minor son of another, he shall be put to death.

7. If a man takes a woman to wife, but has no intercourse with her, this woman is no wife to him.

The code of Hammurabi is considered as most well-preserved ancient law code. It has been valuable historical material for historians to profoundly look into the ancient society because the law code was made due to social needs and problems. But more important point is that Hammurabi’s code shows us how so-called constitution emerged. This code can answer to the questions “What made people need a law?”

Hammurabi was the sixth king of Babylon. He became the first king of Babylonian Empire, extending Babylon's control over Mesopotamia by winning a series of wars against neighboring kingdoms.

Actually, it was the time that city-state began to emerge and form. Starting the Mesopotamian Civilization, in this time the population was greatly increased and large number of population form the first Metropolis called Babylon.

We may wonder that “what problems and needs would the people of first city-state face? Indeed, there happened many problems and needs as the society came to be formed.

As many people who have different personality and interest from one another lived together in certain area, there was increase in crime and it resulted in chaos among the people and social order. Growth in population and social development brought various problems.

For example, a primitive man did not need to steal from others because they ate hunting for food together and ate together. And there was no personal wealth among them. However as people began to know how to domesticate and farm, there was an accumulation of wealth. And it somehow tempted people to steal.

Likewise, there occurred many crimes which caused confusion in society. This problem in society the people of Babylon faced led Hammurabi, the leader of them to establish a constitution, a law to achieve a social order among the people.

The seven examples of Code of Hammurabi stated above show us that how tough the laws were at the time. Hammurabi needed to cope with the unsocial sociability of men (Kant 1784). Therefore, the constitution, which can nearly be considered as first organized constitution was a result of social antagonism among people in society.


Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View(1784). Translation by Lewis White Beck. From Immanuel Kant,“On History,”The Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1963. Retrieved June 13, 2009, from htm

Hammurabi, (July 29, 2009). In Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11:20 July 29, 2009 from

Marie Hughes Warrington (2009). 50 Key Thinker on History New York: Routlege

No comments:

Post a Comment