Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jeremy Bentham

While in London Weiner goes in search of Jeremy Bentham, the 18th century philosopher who wrote the treatise on utilitarianism - the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Bentham, or rather his skeleton dressed in the clothes he died in, is housed at the University College London. He is now known as the auto-icon. When Weiner asks about Bentham at a College information booth he finds the young woman working there unaware that a skeleton of Jeremy Bentham is on display anywhere. You'd think they might clue an information worker into such a thing during training.
I am convinced that my union, which represents faculty and librarians at Massachusetts state colleges, subscribes to Bentham's philosophy. Since there are over a thousand faculty members represented, and only about 45 librarians they work for the greatest number, which leaves those in the unfortuate minority less happy. Our college president once as much as told us (the librarians) that he was going to try to put forth legislation that would give all faculty raises, but not us. He was totally willing to serve our heads on a platter to benefit the greatest number. There must be better philosophies to follow.

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