Saturday, 21 June 2008

Jeremy Bentham - Englishman

Jeremy Benthan seems to me to be quintessentially English, quite mad but very sensible, both at the same time.

He was born into a wealthy Tory family in London in 1748, trained as a solicitor and became a barrister without ever practicing law, the English expression of which he grew to detest. He was of course the Arch-Utilitarian, who believed that the greatest good resulted from the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

There were many good things about Bentham, he worked to make education widely available, for the disestablishment of the Church of England, for votes for women, for welfare, for animal rights and for the abolition of slavery. But perhaps his greatest contribution was in making a gift of himself after death as.......

The Auto-Icon.

After death he was at his own request taxidermied and the result was eventually presented to London University College as a teaching aid. He was put on display in a very nice glass fronted case and is still to be seen today. The head is a replacement as it did not take very well to the preservation process and eventually became the target of student pranks when it would be stolen for a dare.

Interestingly the Auto-Icon was taken to the the 100th. and 150th. anniversary meetings of the College Council where he was listed as being, " present but not voting", however on hung votes he has the casting vote, always coming down in favour of the motion.

Hat tip to the Shrine of the Holy Whapping,

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