Response or Comment
Holland defines jurisprudence as "the formal science of positive law". The meaning of science is plain enough. A good many pages are devoted to the elucidation of the words "positive" and "law," but the term "formal" he explains only by analogy. As there is a formal science of grammar to which belongs, for example, the concept of possession, which has its material manifestation in Latin grammar in a genetive termination and in English grammar in the preposition "of," so there is a formal science of law, material manifestations of whose fundamental principles are found in various systems of actual legal rules. It is manifest that formal is used here as the synonym of essential, and if the latter word were substituted for the former it would materially clarify the definition for many students of jurisprudence. In a forthcoming volume of the "LEGAL PHILOSOPHY SERIES" (Volume X) the Italian of DEL VECCHIO's title, "I presupposti filosophici della notizione del diritto" is paraphrased as "The Formal Bases of Law," and as there is likely to be the same difficulty of interpretation here as in HOLLAND'S definition some account may not be amiss as to why formal means essential as well as non-essential and how it came to have the two opposite meanings.
Drake, Joseph H. "Jurisprudence: A Formal Science." Mich. L. Rev. 13 (1914): 34-6.