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Jeremy Bentham Quotes


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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 age we live in is a busy age; in which knowledge is rapidly advancing towards perfection.
[Advancing]
 

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?
 

The greatest good for the greatest number.
 

The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.
[Happiness]
 

The power of the lawyer is in the uncertainty of the law.
 

The principle of asceticism never was, nor ever can be, consistently pursued by any living creature. Let but one tenth part of the inhabitants of the earth pursue it consistently, and in a day's time they will have turned it into a Hell.
 

The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?"
 

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

The turn of a sentence has decided the fate of many a friendship, and, for aught that we know, the fate of many a kingdom.
 

The word "independence" is united to the accessory ideas of dignity and virtue. The word "dependence" is united to the ideas of inferiority and corruption.
[Independence]
 

Those physical difficulties which you cannot account for, be very slow to arraign; for he that would be wiser than Nature would be wiser than God.
 

To what shall the character of utility be ascribed, if not to that which is a source of pleasure?
 

Tyranny and anarchy are never far apart.
[Tyranny]
 

Unkind language is sure to produce the fruits of unkindness--that is, suffering in the bosom of others.
 

We may scatter the seeds of courtesy and kindness around us at so little expense. Some of them will inevitably fall on good ground, and grow up into benevolence in the minds of others: and all of them will bear fruit of happiness in the bosom whence they spring.
 


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