Frasi di Jeremy Bentham

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Jeremy Bentham

Data di nascita: 15. Febbraio 1748
Data di morte: 6. Giugno 1832

Jeremy Bentham è stato un filosofo e giurista inglese.

Fu un politico radicale e un teorico influente nella filosofia del diritto anglo-americana. È conosciuto come uno dei primi proponenti dell'utilitarismo e dei diritti degli animali, e influenzò lo sviluppo del liberalismo.

Bentham fu uno dei più importanti utilitaristi, in parte tramite le sue opere, ma in particolare tramite i suoi studenti sparsi per il mondo. Tra questi figurano il suo segretario e collaboratore James Mill e suo figlio John Stuart Mill, oltre a vari politici .

Argomentò a favore della libertà personale ed economica, la separazione di stato e chiesa, la libertà di parola, la parità di diritti per le donne, i diritti degli animali, la fine della schiavitù, l'abolizione di punizioni fisiche, il diritto al divorzio, il libero commercio, la difesa dell'usura, e la depenalizzazione della sodomia. Fu a favore delle tasse di successione, restrizioni sul monopolio, pensioni e assicurazioni sulla salute. Ideò e promosse un nuovo tipo di prigione, che Bentham chiamò Panopticon.

Morendo nel 1832 non lasciò solo il retaggio della sua dottrina morale e politica, ma anche quello di un'istituzione nuova in Inghilterra, l'Università di Londra, distinta dalle tradizionali università inglesi di Oxford e Cambridge per il suo carattere rigorosamente laico e subito tacciata dagli avversari come «l'Università senza Dio».

Frasi Jeremy Bentham

„Il patto originario, tra re e popolo, era una leggenda. Il successivo patto, quello fra Camera dei Lords e Camera dei Comuni, fu anche troppo reale.“

—  Jeremy Bentham

Origine: Criticando la cosiddetta Gloriosa rivoluzione inglese del 1689, per dire che non fu una rivoluzione popolare ma aristocratica. (1838-43, vol. IV, p. 447; citato in Losurdo 2005, p. 172)

„Essere incessantemente sotto gli occhi dell'ispettore significa perdere di fatto la capacità di fare del male, se non addirittura il desiderio di farlo.“

—  Jeremy Bentham

Origine: Citato in E. Halèvy, The Growth of philosopbical radicalism, Faber and Faber, London, 1972, p. 83; ripreso in J. S. Mill, Saggio sulla libertà, traduzione di Stefano Magistretti, Il Saggiatore, Milano, 1981, p. 12.

„Gli avvocati sono le uniche persone la cui ignoranza della legge non venga punita.“

—  Jeremy Bentham

Origine: Citato in Gino e Michele, Matteo Molinari, Le Formiche: anno terzo, Zelig Editore, 1995, § 1967.

„C'è stato un giorno, e mi rattrista dire che in molti posti non è ancora passato, in cui la maggior parte del genere umano, grazie all'istituzione della schiavitù è stata trattata dalla legge esattamente nello stesso modo in cui, per esempio in Inghilterra, sono trattate ancora le razze inferiori di animali.
Forse verrà il giorno in cui tutte le altre creature animali si vedranno riconosciuti quei diritti che nessuno, che non sia un tiranno, avrebbe dovuto negar loro. I Francesi hanno già scoperto che il colore nero della pelle non è una buona ragione perché un uomo debba essere abbandonato, per motivi diversi da un atto di giustizia, al capriccio di un torturatore. Forse un giorno si giungerà a riconoscere che il numero delle zampe, la villosità della pelle o la terminazione dell'osso sacro sono ragioni altrettanto insufficienti per abbandonare a quello stesso destino un essere senziente. In base a che cos'altro si dovrebbe tracciare la linea insuperabile? In base alla ragione? O alla capacità di parlare? Ma un cavallo o un cane che abbiano raggiunto l'età matura sono senza confronto animali più razionali e più aperti alla conversazione di un bambino di un giorno, di una settimana o di un mese. Supponiamo che così non fosse; che cosa conterebbe? La domanda da porsi non è se sanno ragionare, né se sanno parlare, bensì se possono soffrire.“

—  Jeremy Bentham

Origine: Da Principles of Morals and Legislation, cap. 17, sez. 1, nota; citato in Ditadi 1994, p. 764.

„Il bene è piacere o esenzione dal dolore. Il male è dolore o perdita del piacere.“

—  Jeremy Bentham

Origine: Citato in AA.VV., Il libro della politica, traduzione di Sonia Sferzi, Gribaudo, 2018, p. 148. ISBN 9788858019429

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„Judges of elegance and taste consider themselves as benefactors to the human race, whilst they are really only the interrupters of their pleasure“

—  Jeremy Bentham

Théorie des peines et des récompenses (1811); translation by Richard Smith, The Rationale of Reward, J. & H. L. Hunt, London, 1825, Bk. 3, Ch. 1
Contesto: Judges of elegance and taste consider themselves as benefactors to the human race, whilst they are really only the interrupters of their pleasure … There is no taste which deserves the epithet good, unless it be the taste for such employments which, to the pleasure actually produced by them, conjoin some contingent or future utility: there is no taste which deserves to be characterized as bad, unless it be a taste for some occupation which has mischievous tendency.

„The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny.“

—  Jeremy Bentham, libro An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

Origine: An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789; 1823), Ch. 17 : Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence
Contesto: The day has been, I grieve to say in many places it is not yet past, in which the greater part of the species, under the denomination of slaves, have been treated by the law exactly upon the same footing as, in England for example, the inferior races of animals are still. The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not Can they reason?, nor Can they talk?, but Can they suffer?

„Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do.“

—  Jeremy Bentham, libro An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

Origine: An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789; 1823), Ch. 1 : Of the Principle of Utility
Contesto: Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it. In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire: but in reality he will remain subject to it all the while. The principle of utility recognizes this subjection, and assumes it for the foundation of that system, the object of which is to rear the fabric of felicity by the hands of reason and of law. Systems which attempt to question it, deal in sounds instead of sense, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness instead of light.

„Every law is an evil, for every law is an infraction of liberty: And I repeat that government has but a choice of evils“

—  Jeremy Bentham

Principles of Legislation (1830), Ch. X : Analysis of Political Good and Evil; How they are spread in society
Contesto: It is with government, as with medicine. They have both but a choice of evils. Every law is an evil, for every law is an infraction of liberty: And I repeat that government has but a choice of evils: In making this choice, what ought to be the object of the legislator? He ought to assure himself of two things; 1st, that in every case, the incidents which he tries to prevent are really evils; and 2ndly, that if evils, they are greater than those which he employs to prevent them.
There are then two things to be regarded; the evil of the offence and the evil of the law; the evil of the malady and the evil of the remedy.
An evil comes rarely alone. A lot of evil cannot well fall upon an individual without spreading itself about him, as about a common centre. In the course of its progress we see it take different shapes: we see evil of one kind issue from evil of another kind; evil proceed from good and good from evil. All these changes, it is important to know and to distinguish; in this, in fact, consists the essence of legislation.

„He ought to assure himself of two things; 1st, that in every case, the incidents which he tries to prevent are really evils; and 2ndly, that if evils, they are greater than those which he employs to prevent them.“

—  Jeremy Bentham

Principles of Legislation (1830), Ch. X : Analysis of Political Good and Evil; How they are spread in society
Contesto: It is with government, as with medicine. They have both but a choice of evils. Every law is an evil, for every law is an infraction of liberty: And I repeat that government has but a choice of evils: In making this choice, what ought to be the object of the legislator? He ought to assure himself of two things; 1st, that in every case, the incidents which he tries to prevent are really evils; and 2ndly, that if evils, they are greater than those which he employs to prevent them.
There are then two things to be regarded; the evil of the offence and the evil of the law; the evil of the malady and the evil of the remedy.
An evil comes rarely alone. A lot of evil cannot well fall upon an individual without spreading itself about him, as about a common centre. In the course of its progress we see it take different shapes: we see evil of one kind issue from evil of another kind; evil proceed from good and good from evil. All these changes, it is important to know and to distinguish; in this, in fact, consists the essence of legislation.

„That which has no existence cannot be destroyed — that which cannot be destroyed cannot require anything to preserve it from destruction. Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense — nonsense upon stilts.“

—  Jeremy Bentham

A Critical Examination of the Declaration of Rights
Anarchical Fallacies (1843)
Contesto: That which has no existence cannot be destroyed — that which cannot be destroyed cannot require anything to preserve it from destruction. Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense — nonsense upon stilts. But this rhetorical nonsense ends in the old strain of mischievous nonsense for immediately a list of these pretended natural rights is given, and those are so expressed as to present to view legal rights. And of these rights, whatever they are, there is not, it seems, any one of which any government can, upon any occasion whatever, abrogate the smallest particle.

„The question is not Can they reason?, nor Can they talk?, but Can they suffer?“

—  Jeremy Bentham, libro An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

Origine: An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789; 1823), Ch. 17 : Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence
Origine: The Principles of Morals and Legislation
Contesto: The day has been, I grieve to say in many places it is not yet past, in which the greater part of the species, under the denomination of slaves, have been treated by the law exactly upon the same footing as, in England for example, the inferior races of animals are still. The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not Can they reason?, nor Can they talk?, but Can they suffer?

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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