The Importance Of Bentham's Auto-Icons

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Essay question: “Is Bentham's auto-icon a useful source for historians?”
(word count: 760)

Jeremy Bentham, the god father of utilitarianism, has asked to preserve his corpse after his death. He wanted his body to be put on public display. In so doing, he thought he could communicate some sort of powerful message to British academia and the public masses: and yet what messages he had intended to convey by preserving his body was still subject to interpretation and debate. I would share the view that Bentham wanted to show that there was nothing wrong or untoward to donate one’s body as an object scientific enquiry. He wanted to rise against the religious conservatism at that time that bodies should be buried and nothing more should be done to it. And yet, I do not think Bentham’s auto-icon is in itself alone a useful source for historians.
First, the auto-icon alone could not suffice to provide enough evidence. It is because without other sources which were relevant to the auto-icon, the reasons for preserving the corpse and
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An auto-icon in a university could become an artefact that serves to illustrate Bentham’s lifetime achievements, legacies, and more. Audience, historians and ordinary masses alike, would just look to the well-waxed and gentlemanly dressed body to contemplate what visions Bentham would harbour in his mind for the world before his death. But historians must in the first place find what messages Bentham wanted to actually communicate to world than conjecturing from the artefact itself alone. It would not guarantee powerful evidence for any serious analysis. The auto-icon should serve as the second source that historians look to. Sources that flow directly from Bentham, other situational texts, oral histories from his friends, family, and university fellows should be of utmost importance when analysing

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