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Jenry Bentham

Jeremy Bentham was born on 15 February, 1748 in London, England

He was an English philosopher, economist and theoretical jurist, the earliest and chief expounder of Utilitarianism.

Bentham never practiced law; he wrote a great deal of philosophy of law, spending most of his life critiquing the existing law and strongly advocating legal reform.

Bentham’s influence was minor during his life. But his impact was greater in later years as his idea were carried on by followers such as John Stuart Mill, John Austin, and other consequentialists.

At his death in London, on June 6, 1832, Bentham left literally tens of thousands of manuscripts pages-some of which was work only sketched out, but all of which he hoped would be prepared for publication.

Bentham Theory of Pain And Pleasure

  • The physical sanction is purely natural because no interference by Being occurs and it comes from the course of nature. This source states that most operations in the world are only existent because of nature. Due to this fact, pain and pleasure directly is caused by nature and its operations. This sanction is a precursor to the succeeding sanctions because the later sanctions involve modifications of interpositions of human and superior beings.

  • The political sanction is the sanction of pain/pleasure in environments controlled by one person, or a set/community of people ruling. If something causes pain or pleasure, and it comes from a government, it has modifications by interposition of human beings. This succeeds the physical sanction because this modification is included. I think that mostly pain is derived from this sanction these days.

  • The moral/popular sanction is the sanction where pain and pleasure is derived if the body is at the hands of ‘chance people’ in the community. People may have certain considerations with this person that has rule and influence. This person also does not have ‘settled or concerted’ rule. This chance person usually has no true ruling power as the figurehead of the political sanction has. The chance person describes its own sanction because of the moral and popular understandings and rulings that most of the population has.

    The religious sanction is the sanction bringing pain and pleasure when things and decisions come from the direct hand of a superior invisible being. Pain/pleasure stemming from this sanction does not have to be effected exactly on the time the superior being acts. Unlike the physical, popular and political sanctions, the religious sanction allows time shifts in the effects (pain and pleasure) of the superior being. This sanction is also doubly effective.

  • Bentham includes here wealth, skill, and memory along with others. the physical sanction is not doubly effective while others are. Simple it’s are not doubly effective, therefore making them simple.

  • Wealth gives success in society and happiness to some extent. It cannot be understood a situation where wealth yields pain. some times where a person is not altogether pleasured with the money he has, but there is always some degree of that pleasure regardless, and no pain every comes out of it.

  • Skill is similar in that those who have skill of any kind can do some sort of work giving them money to succeed. Skill always yields pleasure. The skills allow a person to get hired and to sometimes become wealthy to some extent.

  • Memory also cannot yield anything except for pleasure. One has a lot of good things happen to him or he has a skill. If he has memory, he can remember the skill and also remember the good times he had in his life. To Bentham, memory only yields pleasure.

Bentham exemplifies many pains. Pain of disappointment, regret and the senses. When there is expectation, and nothing is yielded from that expectation, pain of disappointment exists. This is simple because disappointment can never yield pleasure. Pain of regret stems from regret of things grounded on pleasure or on the memory of pleasure. Regret occurs when looking back on the memory or stance of the pleasure because the person did not supposedly act upon that pleasure to make it last.

This notion brings regret, and from regret only comes pain. Finally, pain is yielded from the senses in various ways. These include hunger, thirst, bad tastes, bad odors, pains of the touch (burns etc.), pains of hearing (too loud etc.), pains of sight, extreme temperature pains, pains of disease, and the pain of exertion

Types of pleasure

The several simple pleasures, of which human nature is susceptible, seem to be as follows:
  1. The pleasures of sense
  2. The pleasures of wealth
  3. The pleasures of skill
  4. The pleasures of amity
  5. The pleasures of a good name
  6. The pleasures of power
  7. The pleasures of piety
  8. The pleasures of benevolence
  9. The pleasures of malevolence
  10. The pleasures of memory
  11. The pleasures of imagination
  12. The pleasures of expectation
  13. The pleasures dependent on association
  14. The pleasures of relief

Types of Pain

The several simple pains seem to be as follows:

  1. The pains of privation.
  2. The pains of the senses.
  3. The pains of awkwardness.
  4. The pains of enmity
  5. The pains of an ill name.
  6. The pains of piety.
  7. The pains of benevolence.
  8. The pains of malevolence.
  9. The pains of the memory.
  10. The pains of the imagination
  11. The pains of expectation
  12. The pains dependent on association.

Classification of Pleasure and Pain

Pleasure and Pain may be caused by:
  • Various kinds of sensation
  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Memories
  • Expectations
  • Associations
  • Pleasure may be caused by the relief of pain and satisfaction of desire.
  • Pain maybe caused by cessation of pleasure and frustration of desire.

According to Bentham, nature has placed mankind under governance of two sovereign masters i.e. pleasure and pain. We owe them all our ideas; we refer to them all our judgments and all the determination of life.

Seven Dimensions of Pleasure and Pain

Pleasure and pain can be scientifically calculated according to the following seven criteria of the Hedonistic Calculus. These are:

  • Intensity or how intense is it,
  • Duration or how long it lasts,
  • Certainty or how probable it is,
  • Propinquity or how soon will the expected effects will become evident,
  • Fecundity or the probability of leading to further pleasure,
  • Purity or how free from pain it is,
  • Extent or how widely it covers
  • Bentham argues that individual pursuit may lead to greatest pain and less pleasure to society and may not be right


  • Bentham was the real originator of analytical jurisprudence.
  • He explained the nature of law and its purpose through tool of analysis.
  • He mainly relied on the doctrine of utility to which law ought to conform.
  • Relied on the doctrine of utility to measure the efficacy of law.
  • He invented Expository Jurisprudence which mainly concerned with law as it is without regard to its moral or immoral character.
  • He insisted on the separation of law from morality.
  • According to G.W Paton, Bentham’s brilliant insight in human behaviour and shape of model law was the greatest contribution to European Jurisprudence.

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