English and American Philosophy since 1800: A Critical Survey

By Arthur K. Rogers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II

THE UTILITARIANS

§ I. Bentham. James Mill

I. The combination of radicalism in politics, and sensationalism in philosophy, which goes by the name of Utilitarianism, is by general consent the most vigorous and original product of English thinking in the first part of the nineteenth century. Spiritually the Utilitarians are descendants of the Rationalists of the preceding age. There is the same critical, unimaginative, unemotional outlook on life, which sees what it does see with extraordinary clearness and steadiness, but which is blind to the subtler shades of insight that do not lend themselves to a precise intellectual and logical formulation. The success of the Utilitarians is partly due to this fact that by admitting nothing into their scheme of things whose bearing was not to them pointed and definite, they were able to work for certain limited aims with perfect confidence and directness. They knew what they wanted, were sure it was the only thing worth wanting, and so were in a position to attempt the getting of it in the most effective way. But in consequence they tended to miss other aspects of substantial good in a world in which truth is too large to be summed up in neat and simple formulas, and where precision and limitation of end are therefore not an unmixed blessing.

Between the Rationalists and the Utilitarians there is, however, one important difference, a difference primarily of method. This comes out clearly in the contrast between the watchword of the French Revolution--the Rights of Man,--and the sacred

-49-

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English and American Philosophy since 1800: A Critical Survey
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Contents xi
  • ENGLISH AND AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY SINCE 1800 1
  • Chapter II - THE UTILITARIANS 49
  • Chapter III Authority and Reason in Theology 96
  • Chapter IV - NATURALISM AND EVOLUTION 128
  • Chapter V - ABSOLUTE IDEALISM 207
  • Chapter VI - PERSONAL IDEALISM, PANPSYCHISM AND REALISM 315
  • Chapter VII 359
  • Chapter VIII - NEO-REALISM 411
  • INDEX TO AUTHORS 453
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