Jeremy Bentham – our learned philosophical and radical neighbour

30 August 2019

Jeremy Bentham – our learned philosophical and radical neighbour
The Digital Taxonomy office is located right in the middle of London’s “Knowledge Quarter” – the area encompassing the University of London, the British Museum and many other scientific and cultural institutions. Blue plaques are a London institution. They celebrate great figures in science, the arts and politics, and the buildings that they inhabited.

The Blue Plaques scheme has been run by English Heritage since 1986 and there are over 760 in London. You can find all the blue plaques and information about them here: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/#?pageBP=1&sizeBP=12&borBP=0&keyBP=gower%20street&catBP=0

Our latest entrant is actually a green plaque – a scheme run by the Westminster local authority to “commemorate the diverse cultural heritage of Westminster and the people who have lived or worked here”. https://www.westminster.gov.uk/sites/default/files/green_plaque_full_list.pdf

In this latest instalment of our occasional blog posts about our illustrious neighbours from the past we expanded our search a little to include a personal favourite – the philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Celebrated almost as much for his continuing preserved presence in one of the major corridors in UCL as for his philosophical achievements, Bentham is important also for his radical views on social issues. His nostrum “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong” has become a foundational underpinning of “welfarism”. Read more about this fascinating intellectual powerhouse here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Bentham

Contrary to popular wisdom, he was not in fact one of the founders of UCL, but was certainly instrumental in its development – hence his avuncular presence in the college, keeping a wary eye on the passing fads of the students passing back and forth in front of his cubicle!



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