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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Jeremy Bentham and utility


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Henry William Pickersgill


Jeremy Bentham (1748-1747) is an influential philosopher best known as the father of modern utilitarianism. Economist John Stuart Mill said,


"Yet in the first pages of Bentham it burst upon me with all the force of novelty. What thus impressed me was the chapter in which Bentham passed judgment on the common modes of reasoning in morals and legislation, deduced from phrases like 'law of nature', 'right reason', 'the moral sense', 'natural rectitude', and the like, and characterized them as dogmatism in disguise..." (Autobiography, 1873)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Bentham.




"Priestley was the first (unless it was Beccaria) who taught my lips to pronounce this sacred truth- that the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation." (Extracts from Bentham's Commonplace Book)


"Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do." (An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 1789)


"...every grain of enjoyment you sow in the bosom of another, you shall find a harvest in your own bosom; while every sorrow which you pluck out from the thoughts and feelings of a fellow creature shall be replaced by beautiful peace and joy in the sanctuary of your soul." (Advise to a young girl, 1830)