Jeremy Bentham is the only great nineteenth-century moral philosopher I ever encountered in the flesh. Bentham was one of those tireless reformers who never ran out of ideas about how other people should organize their lives. He was big on penitentiaries and poor houses.
And at the end of his life he left instructions to have himself stuffed and put on display in what he called an “auto-icon.” That’s what I saw as a teenager, when my big brother took me to a particular building of the University of London some 145 years after Bentham’s death. He, or whatever we should call the thing I beheld, was seated on a chair inside a big display case, gripping a staff and wearing a wide-brimmed hat.