Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Utility, Publicity, and LawEssays on Bentham's Moral and Legal Philosophy$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Gerald J. Postema

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198793175

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198793175.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 August 2021

Meaning, Analysis, and Exposition

Meaning, Analysis, and Exposition

The Technology of Thought

(p.3) 1 Meaning, Analysis, and Exposition
Utility, Publicity, and Law

Gerald J. Postema

Oxford University Press

Bentham trained his intellectual energy primarily on law and political ordering, but he looked to every mode of inquiry available for analytic and normative tools with which to “rear the fabric of felicity.” Some he adopted and adapted from other thinkers (e.g., the Greatest Happiness Principle), but others he invented. The most important of his theoretical innovations, in his view, was his theory of meaning, the heart of which was his analysis of language in terms of “real” and “fictitious” entities (conventionally but misleadingly referred to as his “theory of fictions”). He sought to understand the way our language facilitates and misleads thought, reasoning, deliberation, and action. He devised a theory of meaning and the technology of thought in order to allow language the room it needs to do its essential work, while controlling its excesses. He devised a method of analysis—definition by “paraphrasis”—that enabled systematic ordering of thought. With this technology, Bentham sought to discipline potentially wayward language and thereby to deprive arbitrary power of one of its favorite weapons.

Keywords:   definition, empiricism, fictitious entity, language, logical analysis, paraphrasis, pragmatism, reality, technology of thought

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .