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Secular utilitarianism : social science and the critique of religion in the thought of Jeremy Bentham /
James E. Crimmins.
imprint
Oxford [England] : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1990.
description
viii, 348 p.
ISBN
0198277415 :
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Oxford [England] : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1990.
isbn
0198277415 :
catalogue key
1026501
 
Includes bibliographical references.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1991-04:
In this important and well-researched book, Crimmins (Huron College, Ontario) makes a coherent case that Jeremy Bentham's rejection of religion was based not on the political controversies of his day but on a materialist, antitheological worldview that Bentham pursued consistently throughtout his long career. Scientific legislation, Bentham always felt, should replace religion as the means for resolving conflicts between individual self-interest and the good of society. This led Bentham beyond skepticism and toleration to enthusiastic atheism; in his projected utilitarian utopia, religion would simply cease to function. According to Crimmins, Bentham thus successfully "secularized" the principle of utility defined earlier in a religious context by Priestly, Paley, and others, and played a critical role in the overall "secularization" of British thought in the early 19th century. Crimmins's work is based on an exhaustive analysis not only of Bentham's published antireligious works but also the huge store of carefully dated Bentham MSS at University College, London. It is also explicitly related to recent scholarship on Bentham and his era. Highly recommended for all college and university libraries. -J. R. Breihan, Loyola College
Reviews
Review Quotes
'a very scholarly and readable addition to the Bentham literature ... Crimmins exhibits (with punctilious referencing) a detailed familiarity with Bentham's published works, and with the Bentham manuscripts'Utilitas
'Crimmins' objectives in this scholarly and closely-argued book are twofold; to describe and explain Bentham's attitude to religion throughout his career and to show how his religious writings were integrally related to the development of a secular utilitarian utopia ... Crimmins' thesis iscertainly interesting and well documented and is likely to carry much conviction. His detailed discussion of the context of Bentham's anti-religious and Church-reform writings will be of interest far beyond the sphere of Bentham studies ... of considerable value. It is the only scholarlydiscussion of Bentham's writings and their historical context. However the real significance of this book is that, whatever view one may take of its conclusions, the account of Bentham's social science is something that all subsequent writers will have to take seriously. For those interested inBentham and the classical utilitarians this book is essential reading.'History of Political Thought
'Curious readers, wishing to gain a greater understanding of the relationship between religion and utilitarianism and a range of associated issues, are warmly recommended James Crimmins' work ... the feeling of the book is of a thoroughly researched piece by an author who, though himselfintimately familiar with his subject, also has the ability to provide readers with a general understanding of Bentham's work with an insight into a considerably deeper level of knowledge'British Journal for 18th Century Studies
'his discussion of the context of these various texts is an impressive piece of scholarship which will be of value not only to Bentham scholars, but to historians of early nineteenth-century British politics'Political Studies
"Important and well-researched....Highly recommended for all college and university libraries."--Choice "Throughout this book, Crimmins' analysis is professional, stimulating, and well-written. It helps bring Bentham alive in a way the man's writings themselves often fail to do. This excellent study will be useful not only for students of Bentham, but all interested in the wider problem of religion and the growth of secularizatin in early nineteenth-century Britain."--Albion
"Important and well-researched....Highly recommended for all college and university libraries."-- Choice "Throughout this book, Crimmins' analysis is professional, stimulating, and well-written. It helps bring Bentham alive in a way the man's writings themselves often fail to do. This excellent study will be useful not only for students of Bentham, but all interested in the wider problem of religion and the growth of secularizatin in early nineteenth-century Britain."-- Albion
'Professor Crimmins has provided a very scholarly and readable addition to the Bentham literature.'Utilitas
'This is an important work which will shatter many a popular preconception of Bentham. Indispensable for all historians of ideas, ethics and philosophy students.'Ian S. Markham, University of Exeter, Theological Book Review
'well-researched, meticulous, reliable and full of information'Times Higher Education Supplement
'well-researched, meticulous, reliable and full of information'Times Higher Education Supplement'This is an important work which will shatter many a popular preconception of Bentham. Indispensable for all historians of ideas, ethics and philosophy students.'Ian S. Markham, University of Exeter, Theological Book Review'Professor Crimmins has provided a very scholarly and readable addition to the Bentham literature.'Utilitas'his discussion of the context of these various texts is an impressive piece of scholarship which will be of value not only to Bentham scholars, but to historians of early nineteenth-century British politics'Political Studies'a very scholarly and readable addition to the Bentham literature ... Crimmins exhibits (with punctilious referencing) a detailed familiarity with Bentham's published works, and with the Bentham manuscripts'Utilitas'Crimmins' objectives in this scholarly and closely-argued book are twofold; to describe and explain Bentham's attitude to religion throughout his career and to show how his religious writings were integrally related to the development of a secular utilitarian utopia ... Crimmins' thesis is certainly interesting and well documented and is likely to carry much conviction. His detailed discussion of the context of Bentham's anti-religious and Church-reformwritings will be of interest far beyond the sphere of Bentham studies ... of considerable value. It is the only scholarly discussion of Bentham's writings and their historical context. However the real significance of this book is that, whatever view one may take of its conclusions, the account ofBentham's social science is something that all subsequent writers will have to take seriously. For those interested in Bentham and the classical utilitarians this book is essential reading.'History of Political Thought'Curious readers, wishing to gain a greater understanding of the relationship between religion and utilitarianism and a range of associated issues, are warmly recommended James Crimmins' work ... the feeling of the book is of a thoroughly researched piece by an author who, though himself intimately familiar with his subject, also has the ability to provide readers with a general understanding of Bentham's work with an insight into a considerably deeperlevel of knowledge'British Journal for 18th Century Studies
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 1991
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Summaries
Long Description
Jeremy Bentham was an ardent secularist convinced that society could be sustained without the support of religious institutions or beliefs. This is writ large in the commonly neglected books on religion he wrote and published during the last twenty-five years of his life. However his earliest writings on the subject date from the 1770s, when as a young man he first embarked on his calling as a legal theorist and social reformer. From that time on, religion was never far from the centre of his thoughts. In Secular Utilitarianism, James Crimmins illustrates the nature, extent, and depth of Jeremy Bentham's concern with religion, from his Oxford days of first doubts to the middle years of quiet unbelief, and finally, the zealous atheism and secularism of his later life. Dr Crimmins provides an interpretation of Bentham's thought in which his religious views, hitherto of little interest to Bentham scholars, are shown to be integral: on the one hand intimately associated with the metaphysical, epistemological, and psychological principles which gave shape to his system as a whole, and on the other central to the development of his entirely secular view of society.
Main Description
James Crimmins illustrates the nature and extent of Bentham's concern with religion, from his Oxford days of first doubts to the zealous atheism of later life, and shows these concerns to be central to his philosophy.
Main Description
Jeremy Bentham was an ardent secularist convinced that society could be sustained without the support of religious institutions or beliefs. This book illustrates the nature, extent, and depth of Bentham's concern with religion, from his Oxford days of first doubts through the middle years of quiet unbelief to the zealous atheism and secularism of his later life. Crimmins provides an interpretation of Bentham's thought in which his religious views are shown to be integral: on the one hand, intimately associated with the metaphysical, epistemological, and psychological principles which gave shape to his system as a whole, and, on the other, central to the development of his entirely secular view of society.
Main Description
Jeremy Bentham was an ardent secularist convinced that society could be sustained without the support of religious institutions or beliefs. This is writ large in the commonly neglected books on religion he wrote and published during the last twenty-five years of his life. However his earliestwritings on the subject date from the 1770s, when as a young man he first embarked on his calling as a legal theorist and social reformer. From that time on, religion was never far from the centre of his thoughts. In Secular Utilitarianism, James Crimmins illustrates the nature, extent, and depth of Jeremy Bentham's concern with religion, from his Oxford days of first doubts to the middle years of quiet unbelief, and finally, the zealous atheism and secularism of his later life. Dr Crimmins provides aninterpretation of Bentham's thought in which his religious views, hitherto of little interest to Bentham scholars, are shown to be integral: on the one hand intimately associated with the metaphysical, epistemological, and psychological principles which gave shape to his system as a whole, and onthe other central to the development of his entirely secular view of society.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgementsp. vii
List of Abbreviationsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
A Utilitarian Science of Societyp. 21
Church-of-Englandismp. 99
Natural and Revealed Religionp. 203
Conclusion Atheism and the Secular Utilitarian Societyp. 271
Appendicesp. 309
Bibliographyp. 317
Indexp. 331
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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