As an orthodox member of German Historical School Ihering studied Roman law extensively and published four volumes of a work known as The Spirit of Roman Law. He left this work unfinished as he was convinced that the origin of laws lay in sociological factors. He was also Utilitarian and influenced by the writings of Bentham and Mill. Ihering started with an analysis of the social origins of law and legal institutions .His work and philosophy is of fundamental significance in molding the law as purposive system and end oriented. The dominant notion to be found in the exercise of human will is that of purpose. The paramount necessity for law is to serve social purposes. Law is but a part of human conduct .In the idea of purpose Ihering found the mainspring of laws. Laws are only instruments to serve the needs of the society. The problem of the society is to reconcile between selfish (individual) and unselfish (social) purposes. In order to reconcile individual interest with that of society it is necessary to balance various interests.
Ihering divides those interests into three categories of individual, state and social. This reconciliation is to be brought by means of the principle of the levers of social motion. In these levers he combines both the egoistic and altruistic motives .The egoistic levers are reward and coercion. The desire for reward produces commerce and a threat of coercion makes law and state possible. Altruistic or moral levers of social motion are the feelings of duty and love. The four combined together make the society possible and the object of the society being to secure the satisfaction of wants. All these wants are divided by Ihering into three categories extra legal conditions, mixed legal conditions and purely legal conditions.