Archive for December, 2010

Christmas Arrangements

By Tim Causer, on 20 December 2010

Bentham did not approve of Christmas or other religious holidays, which he regarded as an abject waste of waking time which could be put to better use.

He practiced what he preached, and often spent Christmas Day writing. There are a good number of manuscripts and letters composed by Bentham  dated on or around 25 December. For example, on Christmas Day 1814 Bentham wrote about blasphemy:

‘Impiety—blasphemy—in no instance in which it was ever made, had any charge for which expression has been found that was ever expressed in either of those words any the smallest ground.

Yet with what symptoms have not the charges made on these words been accompanied?  And this passion what has it had for its cause? In the first place, in this as on every other occasion the difference of opinion, and the testimony thus borne by the opponent to the intellectual weakness of him in whose breast the flame is thus by the opposition kindled: in the next place, by the sort of humiliation which in the mind galled by the yoke is produced by the idea of the case enjoyed by the sound which remains untouched by it’.

Similarly, on 25 December 1806 Bentham wrote to Lord Grenville on the subject of ‘Scotch Reform’, and on Christmas Day the following year discussed the process of appeal under Scots and English law.

We at the Bentham Project take a slightly softer line than Jeremy. As such, transcribers should be aware that though the Transcription Desk will remain fully functioning over the Christmas break, it will be largely unstaffed from Thursday 23 December until Wednesday 5 January when UCL is closed. Transcripts submitted during this period are unlikely to be corrected until we return and, likewise, emails sent during this period may not be attended to immediately.

If users have any questions about Christmas arrangements, please do contact us before Thursday.

In the meantime, all here at Transcribe Bentham would like to thank our users and Facebook and Twitter followers for their support since September, and wish everyone a very happy festive period, and all the best for the New Year.

See you in 2011!

Raine’s Foundation School visit Bentham

By Valerie H Wallace, on 13 December 2010

A couple of weeks ago Transcribe Bentham hosted a group of A2 Philosophy and Religious Studies students from Raine’s Foundation School in Bethnal Green. The students heard a lecture from Prof. Philip Schofield on Jeremy Bentham, utilitarianism, the panopticon and Bentham’s connection to London and UCL. We had a tour round campus to introduce the students to university life, including a quick stop at the Jeremy Bentham Room, occupied by student protesters, a trip to the library and a visit to see Jeremy himself in his box. Afterwards the students participated in the transcription initiative and completed transcripts of Bentham’s writings on robbery, law, religion, and how to measure pleasure and pain. Seeing the students so inspired by Bentham’s corpse and corpus was exhilarating and rewarding; according to their teacher, Tom Bennett, the experience was ‘fascinating’ and helped to bring philosophy alive.

Raine's Foundation School