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A Life of H.L.A. HartThe Nightmare and the Noble Dream$
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Nicola Lacey

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199202775

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199202775.001.0001

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Old Turks and Young Fogeys: Bentham and Brasenose

Old Turks and Young Fogeys: Bentham and Brasenose

(p.297) Chapter 12 Old Turks and Young Fogeys: Bentham and Brasenose
A Life of H.L.A. Hart

Nicola Lacey

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on H. L. A. Hart's decision to devote himself to the further analysis and editing of the works of Bentham. Hart's decision to take early retirement from the Oxford Chair in 1968 was born of a loss of intellectual confidence and the feeling that he had no further original contribution to make, but this turning point was far from marking the end of his intellectual work. There were a number of psychological factors at play in both Herbert's decision to concentrate on the editing and interpretation of another scholar's work, and his specific choice of Bentham. In the first place, this new role allowed him to sidestep the increasing pressure to speak in his own voice in answer to the rapidly multiplying commentators on his own work. At the same time, the proximity between Bentham's and Herbert's views meant that commentaries on Bentham afforded Herbert the opportunity of oblique revision and refinement of his own ideas. Secondly, his genuine, if exaggerated, feelings of diffidence and discomfort about his own success were assuaged by the devotion of his energies to a scholar whom he felt to be both a more original thinker and to have been inadequately recognized. Thirdly, he felt at some level a personal affinity with and affection for the eccentric and deeply obsessive Bentham. Hart also became Principal of Brasenose College in 1973.

Keywords:   Oxford Chair, Bentham, editing, Brasenose College, Principal

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