The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Volume 2 (1777-80)
Jeremy Bentham, Edited by Timothy L.S. Sprigge | May 2016
Format: 234 x 156mm
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About the book
The first five volumes of the Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham contain over 1,300 letters written both to and from Bentham over a 50-year period, beginning in 1752 (aged three) with his earliest surviving letter to his grandmother, and ending in 1797 with correspondence concerning his attempts to set up a national scheme for the provision of poor relief. Against the background of the debates on the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789, to which he made significant contributions, Bentham worked first on producing a complete penal code, which involved him in detailed explorations of fundamental legal ideas, and then on his panopticon prison scheme. Despite developing a host of original and ground-breaking ideas, contained in a mass of manuscripts, he published little during these years, and remained, at the close of this period, a relatively obscure individual. Nevertheless, these volumes reveal how the foundations were laid for the remarkable rise of Benthamite utilitarianism in the early nineteenth century.
Bentham’s correspondence reveals that in the late 1770s he was working intensively on developing a code of penal law, but also expanding his acquaintance and, to a moderate degree, enhancing his reputation as a legal thinker. A significant family event took place in 1779 when his brother Samuel went to Russia in order to make his fortune.
About the editors
Timothy L.S. Sprigge (1932–2007), philosopher, having completed his PhD under the supervision of A.J. Ayer, was in 1963 appointed Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Sussex, where he remained until 1979 when appointed Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Edinburgh.
J.H. Burns (1921–2012), historian, Reader in the History of Political Thought 1961–6 and Professor in the History of Political Thought 1966–86 in the Department of History, UCL, was in 1961 appointed as the first General Editor of the authoritative edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, a post he held until 1978.