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, that moment a 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 writings 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 project from 2010 to 2020. The work of the coordinator was provided for free.


Algemeen Deel

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, which was the general volume of a famous textbook series on Dutch civil law (Asser Serie) and was published in 1931, 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 did it become clear that other philosophical texts written by Scholten – assembled in his Collected Papers – could contribute much to the project and should also be translated into English.


The first draft of the English translation of the first chapter of Algemeen Deel was put online on the DPSP website in November 2013, side by side with the already existing French translation from 1954 and the original Dutch text. A comment option made it possible for readers to submit comments on the translated text. Other legal philosophical texts of Scholten’s Collected Papers were also put online in 2013, together with an already existing biography, which had been translated into English and a bibliography which had been turned into a sortable table.


The website was launched on the occasion of the first Paul Scholten symposium. In 2014 and 2015 two other symposia followed. The contributions to the three symposia were published as preprints with the intention of publishing them after a thorough edit accompanied by an open peer review. In this period an existing Indonesian translation was discovered in the National Archive. This Indonesian translation was also put online, side by side with the French, Dutch and English texts.


From 2015 on

From 2015 on the DPSP-project’s attention shifted to its completion. Although all texts were by then posted on the website, there was still much correction work to do. Turning a printed text into PDF or Word with the help of OCR (optical character recognition) generates many errors. The side by side presentation of texts in different languages, enabling a comparative analysis, also requires a uniform Word-format. Many Word texts that look the same in fact have a different format. Creating a uniform format demanded a great deal of creativity. Turning the different contributions to the Paul Scholten symposia into a coherent and informative volume required much time and interaction between authors and editor due to the different cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the authors. Finally, it appeared that the website was not user-friendly enough. The choice was made to change the approach and to make the website bilingual: Dutch for those who are interested in open access to Scholten’s original texts, and English for those who are interested in new ideas about the international relevance of Paul Scholten to contemporary legal philosophy.


2020 and further

A renewed DPSP website which can be considered as the completion of the project as planned in 2010 was launched in 2020. The prevailing issue in the last phase of the project was the question of who was going to host the website and what hosting would involve. Discussions in the editorial board led to the conclusion that continued hosting of the website by the initiator would not be enough to guarantee preservation of the website, but that enough activity would have to be created on the website to keep it visible. Visibility would be achieved by starting a new English language journal, DPSP Annual, with annual publication of proceedings. It was decided that DPSP Annual will publish new translations of Scholten’s Collected Papers as well as contributions to Paul Scholten symposia as soon as they are finalized. Contributions to symposia can not all be ready for publication in the same year but will be spread over several years. The journal will be combined with DPSP Special Issues, which are books in print with a selection of publications in different volumes of DPSP Annual, tailored to the themes of the symposia. Two Paul Scholten symposia already are in the planning. Guest-editors will collaborate with the DPSP editor in organizing a symposium and publication of the contributions to it in DPSP Annual. The DPSP Special Issue in print will be edited by the guest editors independently.

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