Jeremy Bentham is the father of the doctrine called Utilitarianism, and John Stuart Mill (son of the second-rank philosopher James Mill and a kind of mouthpiece for Jeremy) is his most known disciple. «Utilitarianism and other Essays » presents the reader some of the most important and exciting excerpts texts written by the two thinkers, who, despite outwardly embracing the same doctrine, had to do a lot of theoretical gymnastics to accomodate each other points of view under the same ideological umbrella, thus demonstrating that sometimes the battle is fiercest, albeit muffled, inside than outside ideological headquarters. In hindsight , it seems that John Stuart Mill, who ran the rudders of the Economic doctrine of England until the 1860's, had some scores to settle with Jeremy, who was many years his senior and had ben, by some, the person behind the culturally sophisticated (although stripped of any emotional and religious overtones) education John received as a boy, learning Greek at 3, Latin at 8 and revising at 15 (in French) the first volume of the book « Democracy in America », by Tocqueville. The outcome of all this is that Mill developed a type of melancholic character who almost pushed him to the depths of depression, only rescued by his second marriage in his mid-life, when he embraced a lot of libertarian and anti-establishment proposals.
The writting styles of the two are blatantly different, James being the pragmatical dogmatist who accepted no exception to his utilitarian praecepts, Mill, on the contrary, the soft-minded scholar who diligently tried to mend the many defficiencies of a theory so rigidly framed and which was supposed to answer to all demands of human action. This dogmatism by Bentham, forced Mill later in life to abscond that doctrine, althoug never converting himself to any religion creed. Worthy of mention if the superb introduction by Alan Ryan, being a book on utilitarianism in itself.