Adolf Reinach, philosopher, jurist and pupil of Edmund Husserl, applied the phenomenological method to legal studies. In keeping with this speculative approach, he sought a priori legal principles, i.e. the unchanging, pre-normative elements of positive law. His most important work, Die apriorischen Grundlagen des bürgerlichen Rechtes (1913), investigates the essential factors of the law of obligations. But already in his graduation thesis, Über den Ursachenbegriff im geltenden Strafrecht (1905), it is possible to discern traces -albeit in an undeveloped form - of the problem that was to become a major characteristic of his subsequent thinking: the issue of a priori legal principles. In addition to this first work, the author analyses the last notes that Reinach wrote while serving on the front in the First World War. In the meantime, he had completely changed the focus of his thinking: he was now interested in the religious experience, in a both phenomenological and existential quest for the very meaning of human finiteness and of the opening to the Absolute.
Keywords: Adolf Reinach - Causal connection - Criminal law - A priori legal principles - Phenomenology - Religious experience