Jeremy Bentham

(3352 words)

Jeremy Bentham is often introduced to students of English literature as the inspiration behind the awful Mr Gradgrind in Dickens' Hard Times (1854), the schoolteacher who believes in nothing but “facts and calculations” and who grinds all the “bumps” off his pupils' souls until they are perfectly flat. If, however, we set aside the conception of Bentham which had become popular by the mid-nineteenth century, he can be seen as radical philosopher who made a very significant contribution to Enlightenment thought. Indeed in 1838, John Stuart Mill, in an essay often very critical of Bentham, offered this praise: “until Bentham spoke out, those who found our institutions unsuited to them did not dare to say so, did not …

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Clark, Robert. "Jeremy Bentham". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 September 2002; last revised 30 August 2005.
[, accessed 05 July 2015.]

Articles on Bentham's works

  1. Defence of Usury
  2. The Panopticon