Claude Adrien Helvetius
(1715 - 71)

picture of  Helvetius
"Every man without passions has within him
no principle of action, nor motive to act."


Claude Adrien Helvetius was a Swiss-French Enlightenment philosopher, philanthropist and tax collector. Helvetius' treatise, De l'ésprit (1758) influenced Cesare Beccaria, and through Beccaria, the English utilitarians. Helvetius' definition of social welfare as the "greatest happiness of the greatest number" anticipated Jeremy Bentham's "greatest happiness principle" of classical utilitarianism. Karl Marx even claimed that Bentham "...simply reproduced in his dull way what Helvétius and other Frenchmen had said with wit and ingenuity in the eighteenth century". [Karl Marx, Capital, trans. Ben Fowkes (Harmondsworth, Penguin: 1976), I, 758n.)]


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Helvetius (Wikipedia)
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