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Jeremy Bentham Quotes

A British gentleman, jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer.
(1748 - 1832)

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All government is a trust. Every branch of government is a trust, and immemorially acknowledged to be so.

All punishment is mischief. All punishment in itself is evil.

As to the evil which results from a censorship, it is impossible to measure it, for it is impossible to tell where it ends.

Every law is an infraction of liberty.

He who thinks and thinks for himself, will always have a claim to thanks; it is no matter whether it be right or wrong, so as it be explicit. If it is right, it will serve as a guide to direct; if wrong, as a beacon to warn.

Human beings are motivated solely by the desire to gain pleasure and avoid pain.

In former days superstitious rites were used to exorcise evil spirits; but in our times the same object is attained, and beyond comparison more effectually by the common newspaper. Before this talisman, ghosts, vampires, witches, and all their kindred tribes are driven from the land, never to return again. The touch of "holy water," is not so intolerable to them as the smell of printing ink.

It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong.

It is vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the interest of the individual.

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.

Lawsuits generally originate with the obstinate and the ignorant, but they do not end with them; and that lawyer was right who left all his money to the support of an asylum for fools and lunatics, saying that from such he got it, and to such he would bequeath it.

Lawyers are the only persons in whom ignorance of the law is not punished.

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.

No power of government ought to be employed in the endeavor to establish any system or article of belief on the subject of religion.

O Logic: born gatekeeper to the Temple of Science, victim of capricious destiny: doomed hitherto to be the drudge of pedants: come to the aid of thy master, Legislation.

Prose is when all the lines except the last go on to the end. Poetry is when some of them fall short of it.

Right, the substantive right is the child of law.

Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government.

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

Submit not to any decree or other act of power, of the justice of which you are not yourself perfectly convinced. If a constable call upon you to serve in the militia, shoot the constable and not the enemy; - if the commander of a press-gang trouble you, push him into the sea - if a bailiff, throw him out of the window. If a judge sentences you to be imprisoned or put to death, have a dagger ready, and take a stroke first at the judge.

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