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Pleasures of BenthamismVictorian Literature, Utility, Political Economy$
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Kathleen Blake

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199563265

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563265.001.0001

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Pleasures of Benthamism—Utility, or, ‘People mutht be amuthed’

Pleasures of Benthamism—Utility, or, ‘People mutht be amuthed’

Bentham and Hard Times

Chapter:
(p.42) 2 Pleasures of Benthamism—Utility, or, ‘People mutht be amuthed’
Source:
Pleasures of Benthamism
Author(s):

Kathleen Blake (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563265.003.0002

This chapter treats the fundamental pleasure principle of Bentham's utility, which is Smith's value‐in‐use. It covers a range of Bentham's writings including Principles of Morals and Legislation, ‘Table of the Springs of Action,’ ‘Manual of Political Economy,’ ‘Panopticon,’ ‘Defense of Usury,’ and ‘Sextus.’ Contrary to expectations of a dry Gradgrindian style, Bentham is a spokesman for pleasure in works that are a pleasure to read. Topics include: self‐interest; sympathy; the moral sanction/impartial spectator; critical thinking; critique of asceticism; fascinations and frustrations of language; push‐pin versus poetry in a Utilitarian assessment. The chapter proceeds to an interpretation of Dickens's Hard Times that goes against the grain of most criticism, arguing that Mr. Gradgrind exemplifies not mistaken faith in a false Smith‐Benthamite creed, but failure to hold true to that creed's own first principle of pleasure.

Keywords:   Bentham's style, critical thinking, critique of asceticism, ‘Defense of Usury’, Dickens's Hard Times, ‘Panopticon’, principle of pleasure, push‐pin versus poetry, ‘sextus’, utility

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