An English In Kentucky


















Wednesday April 3rd 2019Tim Candler9


    Physically drained from the abundance of Spring Projects, there's no end to them and rather than permit the stress of the season to develop the kind of negativity that yearns for indoor outdoor carpeting, your exhausted gardener will contemplate Jeremy Bentham, with particular reference to his concept of a Penopticon and Privacy. The man was eccentric, his mind was anomalous, shall we say, but the products of his mind contributed to the renaissance that was Early Liberalism. He shared with Adam Smith an idea of morality as a set of unwritten rules subject to constant change that emerged within a society, rather than something like a set of universal laws. In other words it didn't matter what the rules or laws were, what mattered was how they came to be and how and why they were adhered to. Oh sure, there are courts of law, but in daily life as we grow into adulthood we either learn from those we grow up with that stealing is wrong or picking your nose was wrong  or we learn that there's nothing actually wrong with stealing or picking your nose as long as you don't end up the wrong end of an Eagle eye or expressions of deep revulsion from someone you respect.



      He argued for a Free Press for no other reason than a free press nosed around other people's business, especially the powerful, and by so doing served a discipline function. Without Privacy he suggested we all would be better behaved, less likely to step on and stamp all over the the approbation of the majority. The Penopticon was Bentham's idea for a prison, where a prisoners and guards would never be free from the prying eyes of each other, and as a result Bentham suggested, prisoners would be more likely to adhere to custom and practice in wider society where taking your neighbors loaf of bread, or Ox, or cheating them out of their mortgage payment was much frowned upon. So why is privacy so important? Is it because we all have something to hide and are ashamed of the possibility of those things being revealed. Is it because we build our lives around a set of deceits and anything that might reveal those deceits is kind of scary to our public sense of self. Has it got something to do with not wanting our weaknesses and vulnerabilities exposed to the vile intent of wrongdoers. Not easy to determine. Oddly when Bentham was a youth he tried courting members of the fair sex, never got anywhere, the girls found him a little unnerving to be around, far too honest, totally without guile and 'My Word' some of his questions!!


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