Jeremy Bentham quotes

Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1747) was an English philosopher and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism.

Bentham defined as the “fundamental axiom” of his philosophy the principle that “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.”

Bentham’s students included his secretary and collaborator James Mill and his son, John Stuart Mill, the legal philosopher John Austin, and the American writer and activist John Neal.


Stretching his hand up to reach the stars, too often man forgets the flowers at his feet.

Every law is an infraction of liberty.

The question is not “Can they reason?” Nor “Can they talk?” But “Can they suffer?”

Tyranny and anarchy are never far apart.

Reputation is the road to power.

Without publicity, no good is permanent; under the auspices of publicity, no evil can continue.

Happiness is a very pretty thing to feel, but very dry to talk about.

The said truth is that it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.

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.

Kind words cost no more than unkind ones . . . and we may scatter the seeds of courtesy and kindliness around us at so little expense. If you would fall into any extreme let it be on the side of gentleness.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


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