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Jeremy Bentham - The Principles of Morals and Legislation - On Adversity

Identifier

013999

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

Jeremy Bentham (15 February 1748 – 6 June 1832) was a British philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. He is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism.

Bentham became a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law, and a political radical whose ideas influenced the development of welfarism. He advocated individual and economic freedom, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and the decriminalising of homosexual acts.

He called for the abolition of slavery, the abolition of the death penalty, and the abolition of physical punishment, including that of children.

He has also become known in recent years as an early advocate of animal rights. Though strongly in favour of the extension of individual legal rights, he opposed the idea of natural law and natural rights, calling them "nonsense upon stilts".

Bentham has been described as the "spiritual founder" of University College London, though he played little direct part in its foundation

A description of the experience

Jeremy Bentham – An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

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. 

On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to the throne.

They govern us in all we think; every effort we can make to throw off our subjection will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it.  In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire; but in reality he will remain subject to it all the while.

The source of the experience

Philosopher other

Concepts, symbols and science items

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Commonsteps

References