Jeremy Bentham- A Former Prodigy And The Founder Of Modern Utilitarianism

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Jeremy Bentham thrived as an English philosopher, social reformer, jurist, and economist regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. Born on 15 February 1748 in London, England, and died at the age of 84. The revolutionary child prodigy also defined the “fundamental axiom” of his philosophy as the principle that “The greatest good for the greatest number” is the measure of right or wrong.

Early life

Jeremy Bentham was born on 15 February 1748 in a wealthy family who supported the Tory Party. He was talented beyond his age, or to be precise he was a Child Prodigy. His family also recognized his talent when they saw the little Jeremy Bentham sitting on his father’s desk and reading England’s multi-volume history. At an early age of just three, he studied Latin and learned to play the violin at seven. He was close to one of his siblings, Samuel Bentham. The former prodigy also won a reputation for writing Latin and Greek verses at Westminster School. Moreover, Bentham completed his Bachelor’s degree in 1763 and his master’s degree in 1766 from The Queen’s College, Oxford.

Jeremy Bentham- founder of modern utilitarianism

He was one of the leading theorists in Anglo-American philosophy of law and a political radical. Moreover, his ideas influenced all the people across the world with the development of welfarism. As one of the few people in that era, he advocated individual and economic freedom. He was also a supporter of freedom of expression, women’s rights of equality and divorce, and the decriminalization of homosexual acts. Moreover, he raised his voice against slavery, physical punishment, and capital punishment, including that of children and an early animal rights advocate.

His notable works

Bentham’s primary motive in his life was to establish a complete utilitarian code of law. For discovering the principles of legislation, he just settled down. He also wrote a remarkable book named “An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation”, published in 1789. In this book, he explained the principle of utility.

The incredible book he wrote ” An introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation” in 1789

In 1823, he co-founded The Westminster Review with James Mill to spread the principles of philosophical radicalism. He always supported women’s participation in government and he argued for the reform in the marriage law to allow greater freedom to divorce.


Jeremy Bentham corpse preserved at University College London as an “auto-icon”

After his death, the dissection of Bentham’s body happened in the presence of his friends as per his wish. Moreover, after the reconstruction and preservation of his skeleton, it is now an “auto-icon,” as his memorial. As per Bentham’s wish, and it is now available for the public at the entrance of the Student Centre at University College London (UCL).

Also read: Gabrielle Turnquest – former child prodigy

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