Digital Paul Scholten Project (DPSP)

Photo in Verz. Geschr. Deel I,1949

Photo in Verz. Geschr. Deel I,1949

Paul Scholten (1875-1946) was affiliated with the University of Amsterdam throughout his working life. The research institute of the Department of General Jurisprudence, established in 1994, was named after him: the Paul Scholten Center for Jurisprudence. The Digital Paul Scholten Project (DPSP) got its start in 2010. The project was initiated by Liesbeth Huppes-Cluysenaer, till 2012 lecturer and researcher at the Department of General Jurisprudence. The aim of the DPSP project was to produce an English translation of Scholten’s most important legal philosophical writing – commonly known as Algemeen Deel – and to create a website to serve as an international platform for the discussion of Scholten’s theory. The Faculty of Law of the University of Amsterdam accepted the proposal and agreed to finance the external costs of the project from 2010 to 2020.The work of the coordinator was provided for free.

At the end of 2020, the project with regard to the English translation of Algemeen Deel was completed. Since then, the project has been continued as an independent project by the initiator. The reissue of the already existing French and Indonesian translation followed in 2021. From that moment on, attention is focused on reissuing, translating and discussing the first two volumes of the collected papers, which contain Scholten’s philosophical and political writings.

Algemeen Deel (General Method) and Verzamelde Geschriften (Collected Papers)

Paul Scholten was a prolific writer. Most of his texts concern Dutch civil law and are written in Dutch. (See bibliography) The book Algemeen Deel was the general volume of a famous textbook series on Dutch civil law (Asser-serie) and was published in 1931. It gave Scholten great renown and the status of The Netherlands’ most important legal philosopher of the twentieth century. It was in particular the first chapter (179 pages) of the book Algemeen Deel that had this effect. The other two chapters (respectively 40 and 27 pages in length) received little attention in legal philosophical debate. At first only an English language translation of the first chapter of Algemeen Deel was planned. Later, when the project was up and running new interest arose in Scholten’s collected papers, especially the first volume, in which the relationship between law and religion occupies an important place. Although Scholten does not hide his Protestant Christian faith in Algemeen Deel, the general appreciation for this book was based on private law theory and not on the religious approach.
Scholten’s religious ideas have been especially important for the political role he played in the Second World War, when he took a leading role among a group of jurists who discussed the postwar political-legal reconstruction of the country during the war. In the first period after the war this group was rather influential. The collected papers consist of four volumes. The first volume, published in 1949, contains the essays on philosophy of law, while the second volume, published in 1950, contains the political contributions. In 1980 a reprint of the collected papers was made by the same publisher. This reprint consists of two bindings, each with two volumes.

Digitizing, Adapting, Translating and (Digital) Publishing

Digitization: The Algemeen Deel and the already existing French and Indonesian translations of it + the four volumes collected papers have been made available digitally, and can be downloaded both in image (PDF) and in text (Word). Digitization to Word leads to a text with many reading errors. Reading errors have been corrected for Algemeen Deel and the French and Indonesian translation. These texts – at least as far as they concern chapter 1 – were subsequently republished in DPSP Annual.
The texts of the collected papers can be downloaded by volume and by article. The Word texts have not yet been corrected. They will be corrected when they are adapted and translated.
Adaption: The Dutch text of Algemeen Deel has been adapted for the purpose of republication. Scholten’s texts are written in old spelling. Entering a new spelling involves grammatical changes. The texts also use expressions and references to institutions and articles of law that are outdated and sometimes confusing. The adaptation therefore involves a modernization of language.
Also a first article of the collected papers (no 2: Recht en Levensbeschouwing) has now (2022) been adapted and translated into English.  After the English translation has undergone a language editing by a native speaker, the adaptation and translation will be (re)published in combination in DPSP Annual.
The possibility has been opened on the website to compare the original and adapted texts side by side. This has been made possible by dividing the texts into blocks and applying codes. The side by side presentations can be viewed on the website, but are not published. They cannot be quoted in any other way than via a link.
Translation: The English translation of the first chapter of Algemeen Deel is based on the adapted text of the 2nd edition. There were already translations of Algemeen Deel into French (only the first chapter, 1954) and Indonesian (the whole book, 1986 and of chapter 3, 1985). These translations are also based on the 2nd edition. The French and Indonesian translations have not been adapted to the modernized Dutch edition, but can be compared (see side by sides) with the English translation, with each other and also with both the original and the adapted Dutch edition.
An English translation has been made of Scholten’s first (1915) legal-theoretical work: Recht en Levensbeschouwing.

Four of the collected papers are originally written in French by Scholten: CP 9: L’Interprétation de la Loi et la Justice, CP 34: L ‘autorité de l’Etat, CP 65: Jean Yver, Les contrats dans le très ancien droit Normand, CP 66: Convenances vainquent loi.

CP 15: Structuur van de rechtswetenschap has been translated into Indonesian, but has not been published yet. All these texts can already be viewed on the website and will be (re)published in the near future in combination with an English translation and a modernization of the Dutch.
Publishing: Digital publishing in open access is not easy. First of all, there is the problem of machine readability. The project has not received the institutional embedding required to provide publications with DOI numbers, with which individual texts are easily identifiable. Google Scholar provides guidelines on how publications can be found without such a DOI number. These guidelines are sometimes difficult to interpret and minor mistakes are easily made and not always traceable. The project works with an online journal (DPSP Annual) and a print version (DPSP Special Issues) for a selection of the journal articles. The print version of DPSP Special Issues no 1 has been included into a number of relevant university libraries and it also appears that the machine readability of the journal articles has raised to the level that many of the articles of the online journal are now visible on Google Scholar.
Digital Publishing: For many people digital publishing seems to have been achieved when something can be easily read on a website via Google. Few realize how easily such a publication is erased and an entire website is gone. Cataloging the results of the DPSP project in Worldcat (the world catalog of the association of libraries) and thereby preserving an electronic copy and/or print version is very important for this reason and has been fortunately achieved for the English translation of Algemeen Deel. (See Worldcat) Authors can contribute to the availability of their own work by also posting their publication on other websites with a correct reference to the original publication.

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