Georg Jellinek (June 16, 1851, Leipzig–January 12, 1911, Heidelberg) was a German legal philosopher. Jellinek is associated with legal positivism but is critical of that theory on the grounds that law should be understood as having an intrinsic relationship with society.
Jellinek is best known for his essay The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1895), which argues for a universal theory of rights, as opposed to the culturally and nationally specific arguments then in vogue (particularly that of Émile Boutmy). Jellinek argued that the French Revolution, which was the focal point of 19th century political theory, should not be thought of as arising from a purely French tradition (namely the tradition stemming from Jean-Jacques Rousseau) but as a close analogue of revolutionary movements and ideas in England and the United States.
Jellinek, the son of Adolf Jellinek, a rabbinical scholar, converted to Christianity. He taught at the Universities of Vienna, Basel, and Heidelberg. While teaching there, he wrote his most ambitious work, Allgemeine Staatslehre (General Theory of the State) in 1900.
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