On Friday, 20 June, I had the great privilege of speaking at the Humanist Society of NSW symposium on the Enlightenment and the Roots of Humanism. The event was hosted by Greens MP Adam Bandt in the Macquarie Room at Parliament House, Sydney.
Also on the program were president of the Rationalist Society of Australia, Meredith Doig, well known humanist author, David Tribe, , Emeritus Professor Frank Stillwell, Unitarian Minister, Ian Ellis-Jones and treasurer of the Humanist Society of NSW, Dr Victor Bien.
My speech focused on 18th century Enlightenment philosopher and law reformer, Jeremy Bentham and his influence on Australia’s government, law, public institutions, history and national identity.
Although Jeremy Bentham never set foot in Australia his influence suffuses almost every aspect of Australian public life. In the speech I argue that far from Christianity being the dominant influence in the development of Australia, it is Jeremy Bentham who has most shaped our history, our constitution, our government, public institutions, even the way we shop! We are not a Christian nation, we are a Benthamite society.
The speech was recorded and you can watch it here. Later, when I have more time I will finish hyperlinking the transcript of the speech and have it published.
A fully referenced transcript of the speech is online here.
If you are fascinated by Jeremy Bentham, you might also enjoy this song: Jeremy Bentham’s Head