Jeremy Bentham Quotes
“The day may come when the rest of animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”
“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 their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, 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 principle of utility recognizes this subjection, and assumes it for the foundation of that system, the object of which is to rear the fabric of felicity by the hands of reason and of law. Systems which attempt to question it, deal in sounds instead of sense, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness instead of light.”
“If a man happen to take it into his head to assassinate with his own hands, or with the sword of justice, those whom he calls heretics, that is, people who think, or perhaps only speak, differently upon a subject which neither party understands, he will be as much inclined to do this at one time as at another. Fanaticism never sleeps: it is never glutted: it is never stopped by philanthropy; for it makes a merit of trampling on philanthropy: it is never stopped by conscience; for it has pressed conscience into its service. Avarice, lust, and vengeance, have piety, benevolence, honour; fanaticism has nothing to oppose it.”
- Date of birth: February 15, 1748
- Died: June 06, 1832
- Born: in London, England, The United Kingdom.
- Description: In 1748, Jeremy Bentham was born in London. The great philosopher, utilitarian humanitarian and atheist began learning Latin at age four. He earned his B.A. from Oxford by age 15 or 16, and his M.A. at 18. His Rationale of Punishments and Rewards was published in 1775, followed by his groundbreaking utilitarian work, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Bentham propounded his principle of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number." He worked for political, legal, prison and educational reform. Inheriting a large fortune from his father in 1792, Bentham was free to spend his remaining life promoting progressive causes. The renowned humanitarian was made a citizen of France by the National Assembly in Paris. In published and unpublished treatises, Bentham extensively critiqued religion, the catechism, the use of religious oaths and the bible. Using the pen-name Philip Beauchamp, he co-wrote a freethought treatise, Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind (1822). D. 1832.