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Edward Bentham

(1707—1776) Church of England clergyman and natural philosopher


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Edward Bentham was born at Ely on 23 July 1707 and died on 1 August 1776. He entered Corpus Christi College, Oxford in 1724, became a Fellow of Oriel College in 1731 and received his MA in 1732 (BD, 1743; DD, 1749). He was a tutor for twenty years. He became a canon of Christ Church, Oxford in 1754, and was Regius Professor of Divinity from 1763 until his death. He was a distant relative of Jeremy Bentham, who was a student at Queen's College, Oxford while Edward was teaching there. The two Benthams dined together on occasion. The editor of Jeremy's correspondence, T.L.S. Sprigge, describes Edward as ‘A virtuous, industrious, and plodding man’ (vol. 1, p. 20, n. 3). This description is not far wrong but there is value in some of Bentham's publications, especially his works on logic. His Introduction to Moral Philosophy (1745), designed for the use of students, is a good, clear account of contemporary discussions; it has an extensive list of topics with recommended reading for each, as well as a long list of authors in moral philosophy. His Introduction to Logick (1773), again a student guide, is uninspired but probably useful for students. Both these introductions end with lists of questions which appeared in examinations at Oxford.

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From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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