This introductory chapter begins by setting out the purposes of this book: first, to illustrate the extent, depth, and nature of Bentham's concern with religion — from his Oxford days of first doubts, to the middle years of quiet unbelief, and, finally, the zealous atheism and secularism of later life when he pondered the vision of a world without religion. Secondly, it provides an interpretation of his utilitarian philosophy in which his religious views are located as an integral concern: on the one hand, intimately associated with the metaphysical, epistemological, and psychological principles which gave shape to his system as a whole and, on the other hand, central to the development of his entirely secular view of society. It then discusses the chronology of Bentham's views on religion and the manner in which they came to be published. An overview of the subsequent chapters is presented.
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