Bentham Project


Bentham and the Arts

The seminar series will consider the sceptical challenge presented by Jeremy Bentham's hedonistic utilitarianism to the existence of the aesthetic, as represented in the oft-quoted statement that, 'Prejudice apart, the game of push-pin is of equal value with the arts and sciences of music and poetry. If the game of push-pin furnish more pleasure, it is more valuable than either.' This statement is one part of a complex set of arguments on culture, taste, and utility that Bentham pursued over his lifetime, in which sensations of pleasure and pain were opposed to aesthetic sensibility.

Hosted by the Bentham Project and Faculty of Laws, University College London and the University of the Arts, London

Sponsored by UCL Faculty of Laws, the Bentham Project, and the International Society for Utilitarian Studies (ISUS)

Co convenors: Anthony Julius (UCL), Malcolm Quinn (UAL), Philip Schofield (UCL)

All seminars take place on Tuesday evenings, at 6.00 pm, at UCL. All are welcome. Please register your attendance at our Eventbrite page.

The seminars on 30 January, 20 February, 6 March, and 20 March 2018 will take place in G10 Lecture Theatre, Chandler House, 2 Wakefield Street, London, WC1N 1PF.

The remaining seminars will take place in the Moot Court, Bentham House, Endsleigh Gardens, London, WC1H 0EG.

Listen to podcasts of past seminars.

For abstracts of papers, please consult the


30 January 2018BENTHAM SYMPOSIUM. Bentham's Challenge to Aesthetics: Benjamin Bourcier (Catholic University of Lille); Malcolm Quinn (University of the Arts, London); Philip Schofield (UCL)
20 February 2018Anthony Julius (UCL): Who was the greater champion of literature, Bentham or Mill?
6 March 2018Stella Sandford (Kingston): 'Envy accompanied with Antipathy': Bentham and Freud on the Psychology of Sexual Ressentiment
20 March 2018Tim Milnes (Edinburgh): 'Is it true?... What is the meaning of it?': Bentham, Romanticism, and the Fictions of Reason
1 May 2018Frances Ferguson (Chicago): Jeremy Bentham's Expansive Aesthetics: Pushpin Too
22 May 2018Emmanuelle de Champs (Cergy-Pointoise): Bentham and Dumont on Taste and Literature
5 June 2018Fran Cottell (University of the Arts London) and Marianne Mueller (Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design): Pentagon Petal: from Pain to Pleasure
19 June 2018Carolyn Shapiro (Falmouth): The Image of Bentham

For enquiries, please contact Phil Baker, UCL Laws: philip.baker@ucl.ac.uk (020 3108 8480).