Friday, 31 May 2013

Jeremy Bentham

Siris has an interesting essay at First Things about newly published material from the Grandfather of Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham
Hold up before you say ‘but this is evil’, the indications are that Bentham was a classic high functioning Aspergers. A paper written by two forensic psychologists details the evidence from his own writing and the reports of those that knew him. It’s fascinating and to this civilian clear that we must take an objective stance to the sage’s daft maundering.
lucas & Sheeran
In a wittier and more acerbic style William Hazlitt in Spirit of the Age who was once a tenant of Bentham’s and knew him well, depicts the extreme oddness of the man.
Spirit of the Age

Finally to rectify the picture of enlightened recipes for the proper conduct of society on rational grounds we have the dessicated dean (sorry!) himself John Stuart Mill whose essay on Bentham stresses the partial genius of the man.

Mill on Bentham

What is to be made of the modern Utilitarians such as Singer, McMahan and Tooley whose lack of empathy has no diagnosis of Aspergers to modify a natural revulsion? Can I have some more degrees of separation please, preferablely to a world far from this one, an ubermensch penal colony planet. Or a well appointed Panopticon.

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