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Posted on June 13th, 2012, by

Jeremy Bentham (1748- 1832) was an English philosopher, jurist and a political reformer. He is primarily renowned for his moral philosophy, especially his principle of utilitarianism, which evaluates actions based upon their consequences, in particular the overall happiness created for everyone affected by the action. He believed pain and pleasure to govern all. According to his teachings, pleasure is the only justification for the authorities, and for the reforms, they conduct.


All human deeds are to be esteemed from the point of view gaining of as more happiness as possible by the more people as possible.


Although Bentham was not the founding father of utilitarianism, he was the first to contrive the idea of the so-called felicific calculus. That concept was designed to calculate a measure of pleasure and pains in order to figure out the right thing to do.  According to the concept of the calculus in order to ascertain which steps should be taken in order to get profound satisfaction one should operate such variables (or dimensions as Bentham called them himself) as intensity of the pleasure i.e. how strong it is; its duration; certainty i.e. how likely is the pleasure to occur; how soon the pleasure would occur; its fecundity that is, the probability for the pleasure to be followed by anything of a kind; its purity i.e. the probability it would not be followed by anything of the opposite kind and at last the pleasure’s extent i.e. the number of people would be affected.


According to Bentham, his Calculus is applicable to whatever a human does, thinks or speaks.


Though Bentham used to claim overtly that his calculus could be applicable to everything, we do or ought to do he was preoccupied more with the matters which ought to be done. He often was bogged down it tautologies since he did not share the suggestion of steadiness of preferences. He was preoccupied with getting his Calculus in accord with human behavior instead of verifying what kind of restrictions his concept would impose upon a human’s life.


To say honestly it would be more natural to consider calculus of pains than calculating of pleasures, because people are apt to display habits that are more common and inclinations in times of trouble than if rejoicing anything.


Hedonistic Calculus strikingly reminds calculations of profits. However the profit or income is computed in commensurable units i.e. dollars and cents, ponds and shillings etc. But how could be correlated pleasure that derives of consuming delicious course and passing an interview applying for a job? It is without a doubt Bentham failed to solve the problem nonetheless he used to speak as though he knew for sure that people really behave according to his concepts.


To cut a long story short let me say that Bentham’s Calculus is a curious and disputable speculation. It is too weird for such characteristic features of a pleasure as its dimensions, intensity, duration and probability to afford pleasure cannot be reduced to a common denominator and put together in a certain amount of happiness. That is simply impossible since we can not get neither variables nor a calculation of such things since people are reasonable beings endowed with soul but not the beasts moved by instincts only.

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