Bentham's Theory of Fictions

Ogden, C.K.

If the History of Philosophy ever comes to be rewritten so that philosophers are assessed rather for their ability to recognize the linguistic basis of ' philosophy ' than for their attempts at an imaginative reformulation or a static analysis of the legacies of various types of Word-magic, many surprising revaluations will be necessary. Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume . . . Mill, Bradley, Russell-such is the tradition, with appropriate variants for the three final links, which is generally supposed to constitute the English contribution to the highest or the deepest Thought of humanity. To his five great predecessors Bentham acknowledges his debt. It is the purpose of the present volume to give some indication of the debt which future generations may acknowledge to Jeremy Bentham, when he has taken his place as sixth in the line of the great tradition-and in some respects its most original representative. An argument that Bentham's theory of fictions was an anticipation of the entire philosophy of "as-if".

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