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Utility, Publicity, and LawEssays on Bentham's Moral and Legal Philosophy$
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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

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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

Chapter:
(p.3) 1 Meaning, Analysis, and Exposition
Source:
Utility, Publicity, and Law
Author(s):

Gerald J. Postema

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198793175.003.0001

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

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