Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1748, was born Jeremy Bentham.

Bentham was a philosopher who developed the Nineteenth Century concept of Utilitarianism. 

Bentham was originally a lawyer. It was said that he could read Latin at three years old. He attended Westminster School, Queen’s College Oxford and was called to the bar. Bentham became infuriated with the legal system which was uncodified, in many cases irrelevant to current needs and amoral, that is not necessarily fair or just.  

Bentham created his own philosophy that all human activity should be directed to ‘The greatest good of the greatest number’. This became known as Utilitarianism. It encompassed separation of church and state, abolition of slavery, equal rights for women, free trade, divorce etc. etc. He also supported taxes, prisons, the workhouse and enforced labour of the poor. The philosophy was relatively successful during the Nineteenth Century but was gradually replaced by alternative ideas such as Modern Liberalism and Socialism.  

Bentham was instrumental in the foundation of London University. In fact, in most quarters, he is credited as being the university’s founder. In his will, he left his body to the university. It was preserved, dressed with Bentham’s own clothes and set inside a wooden cabinet for easy viewing. The display case now stands in the lobby of University College, London.


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