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BENTHAM, Jeremy.

The Book of Fallacies: from Unfinished Papers.

By a Friend [Peregrine Bingham].

London: John and H. L. Hunt, 1824 Stock Code: 101331
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First edition. "The substance of this treatise, drawn up from the most unfinished of all Mr. Bentham's Manuscripts, has already been published in French by M. Dumont" (Preface). A host of fallacies are detected and analysed, for instance the Argument from the Wisdom of Our Ancestors; the Hobgoblin Argument or 'No Innovation'; the Official Malefactors Screen with its slogan 'Attack us and you Attack all Government'; and 'Non Causa pro Causa', whereby the causes of progress are confounded with the obstacles to it, as when the influence of the Crown and the presence of Bishops in the House of Lords are represented as the cause of good government. Bentham's sensitivity to the possibilities of deception that lie in apparently the most innocent locutions is exemplified particularly clearly by his observation that what are called 'old times', as in 'the wisdom of old times', ought to be called 'young' or 'early' times, on the grounds that to give the name 'old' to earlier and less experienced generations is as foolish as to call an infant in its cradle an old man: in the very expression 'old times', Bentham says, 'there is virtually involved a false and deceptious proposition'. Most of, if not all, the insights central to the twentieth-century emotivist theory of value are to be found in Bentham's discussion here of the uses of 'question-begging appellatives', 'passion-killing appellatives' and 'impostor terms' in political and moral argument. Hart writes, 'The general neglect of this work in the teaching of political theory seems to me strange; for it is as readable and entertaining as it is instructive and it is full of contemporary relevance' (Bentham, p. 306).

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Octavo (210 x 130 mm). Near-contemporary straight-grain blue morocco, rebacked preserving the original spine, double gilt-rule border to covers, spine decorated gilt in compartments, contrasting spine labels (upper label reads "Bentham's Works 10"), marbled endpapers.


Ownership inscription of George Bentham to title. Minor wear to extremities, a very good copy.


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