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Enlightenment and Utility
Bentham in French, Bentham in France


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Part of Ideas in Context

  • Date Published: October 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107491595

£ 26.99

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About the Authors
  • 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 Examining previously unpublished sources, she traces the circulation of Bentham's letters, friends, manuscripts, and books in the French-speaking world.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.

    • 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    • Draws on original, unpublished French sources translated into English for the first time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
    Read more


    • 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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    Product details

    • 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

  • Author

    Emmanuelle de Champs, Université de Cergy-Pontoise
    Emmanuelle de Champs is Professor of British History and Civilisation at Université Cergy-Pontoise (France) and a former student of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Fontenay-Saint Cloud. She is a founding member of the Centre Bentham Ecole de droit de Sciences-Po, Paris, the leading French research centre in utilitarian studies and collaborates with the Bentham Project, University College London, on Bentham's French manuscripts. De Champs has published numerous articles on Bentham and classical utilitarianism, aw well as two monographs: Bentham et la France: fortunes et infortunes de L'utilitarisme (2009) and 'La déontologie politique' ou la pensée constitutionnelle de Jeremy Bentham (2008). She is a member of the Committee, Bentham Project, University College London, and a Board Member for the International Society of Utilitarian Studies.


    • Winner, 2016 Prix de la Recherche, Société des Anglicistes de l'Enseignement Supérieur/Association Française d'Études Américaines

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