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Jeremy Bentham, the founder of classical utilitarianism, was a seminal figure in the history of modern political thought. This lively monograph presents the numerous French connections of an emblematic British thinker. Perhaps more than any other intellectual of his time, Bentham engaged with contemporary events and people in France, even writing in French in the 1780s. Placing Bentham's thought in the context of the French-language Enlightenment through to the post-Revolutionary era, Emmanuelle de Champs makes the case for a historical study of 'Global Bentham'. Examining previously unpublished sources, she traces the circulation of Bentham's letters, friends, manuscripts, and books in the French-speaking world. This study in transnational intellectual history reveals how utilitarianism, as a doctrine, was both the product of, and a contribution to, French-language political thought at a key time in European history. The debates surrounding utilitarianism in France cast new light on the making of modern Liberalism.Read more
- Provides a historical view of a key movement in the history of ideas
- Draws on original, unpublished French sources translated into English for the first time
- Places Jeremy Bentham's ideas within the broader context of eighteenth-century European history
- Winner, 2016 Prix de la Recherche, Société des Anglicistes de l'Enseignement Supérieur/Association Française d'Études Américaines
Reviews & endorsements
'An impressive addition to the Cambridge University Press ‘Ideas in Context’ series, Emmanuelle de Champs’ Enlightenment and Utility: Bentham in French, Bentham in France gives us a Bentham who is both familiar and strange. This new French Bentham guides us through a transatlantic matrix of utilitarian liberal reform ideas that began in the eighteenth century, spanned the French Revolution and dissipated only in the mid-nineteenth century. Fluent and authoritative, de Champs’ narrative demonstrates the way in which historical contextualisation - which depends not only on erudition but on intelligent and imaginative judgements about how to construct a relevant context - can alter the landscape of scholarship both on well-mined figures in the history of political thought and on traditions of thought.' Cheryl B. Welch, French History
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- Date Published: October 2017
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107491595
- length: 252 pages
- dimensions: 228 x 151 x 14 mm
- weight: 0.38kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
A note on translations
Part I. An Englishman in the Republic of Letters:
1. Languages of Enlightenment
2. Satire and polemics
3. Defining utilitarianism: private connections and correspondence
Part II. 'Projet d'un corps de loix complet' and the Reform of Jurisprudence in Europe:
4. The Genesis of Projet
5. Projet in Enlightenment legal thought
6. The politics of legal reform
Part III. Reflections for the Revolution in France:
7. Frenchmen and Francophiles: Lord Lansdowne's network
8. British expertise for French legislators
9. Utility, rights and revolution: missed encounters?
Part IV. Utile Dulcis? Bentham in Paris, 1802:
10. Dumont's editorship: from the Bibliothèque Britannique to Traités de législation civile et pénale
11. A mixed reception
12. Autumn 1802: Bentham in Paris
Part V. Liberty, Utility and Rights (1815–1832):
13. 'For one disciple in this country, I have fifty at least in France'
14. Utilitarian arguments in French politics
15. A Utilitarian moment? French liberals and utilitarianism
Epilogue: Bentham in the July Revolution
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