Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Final Report, 2 of 2

On Jeremy Bentham-

   Bentham was one of the lesser talked about philosophers (seemed like to me anyway), so I found it appropriate to speak on him a bit more.  Of course, the bit about him wanting to (and succeeding to) leave his dead body on display for everyone to see intrigued me as well, so here I am.

   Jeremy Bentham lived in England during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, at a time when America was declaring their independence and England was constantly at war.  He was born into a wealthy family, but made himself known through his early written works and as an apparent child prodigy.  Despite his roots in the upper class, Bentham was a strong believer of gender equality, sexual preferences, and animal rights.
                                                                                                                               Nice hat.
   Bentham believed in the greatest happiness principle, basically stating that whenever presented with an issue, the correct way to answer it was whatever created the greatest amount of happiness and least amount of pain.  Bentham believed that happiness was the goal of all humans and it could come from several sources—reading a book, eating birthday cake, winning the lottery, etc.  Each of these would produce a certain ‘amount’ of happiness. For example reading a book might give 3 points of happiness and winning the lottery might give 10.  These amounts applied to pain as well.   So basically, he would add up the totals for each and compare the possible solutions.  Whichever turned out to be the most favorable seemed to be the correct response.  In this way, Bentham might say it was OK to lie if the results were favorable, unlike many philosophers.

   He did have several critics of this idea.  As an example, if a gambling addict were to find a slot machine that required no money and infinite payouts, according to Bentham's principle, this individual should never leave the slot machine; doing so would reduce the amount of happiness.  Critics argue (and rightly so, I believe) that there are more things in life to experience and not everyone is focused solely on maximizing happiness and minimizing pain.  After all, wouldn't you get bored after a while?


A Little History of Philosophy, Nigel Warburton
Philosophy : the basics, Nigel Warburton

Section 14

1 comment:

  1. I agree that a life devoted to indulging one's passion for gambling would not be my idea of the good life. But shouldn't people be left to assess their own good, insofar at least as its pursuit does not injure others? If you prefer pushpin (or football) and I poetry, what business is it of mine or yours to interfere? Now, if you force your child to play football that might raise the question of harm...