“Bentham’s Panopticon” by Robin Evans

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Evans, Robin. “Bentham’s panopticon: An incident in the social history of architecture.” Architectural Association Quarterly 3.2 (1971): 21-37.Print

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Summary: In Bentham’s panopticon: An incident in the social history of architecture, Jeremy Bentham, the famous legislature and the father of utilitarianism presents a strong argument that the power of the mind is a treasure that cannot be equaled with any other power. Here, the author argues that most architects were ignorant of the existence of the Panopticon construction principle while philosophers regarded the principle to be a trivial idea. The author asserts that the mind could be made to perceive things in different ways if different sources of light are set to come from different sources in a building. However, there were no standard models that could be used to arrange the sources of light within a building such as in prisons.

Responses: “Action scarcely follows thought quicker than execution might here be made to follow on command” (Evans 23). The author argues that the mind can be made to perceive the environment in different ways if the environment is manipulated in different ways such as shining light on the different objects from different sources (Evans 23).

I agree with the author’s statement because the architects were looking for new ways in which they could erect structures that could create different impressions in the minds of the people when viewed from different directions, depending on the viewer’s perspective. The aesthetic vision represents the views of the architects on what human minds could achieve. Although the architects were ignorant of the Panopticon principle, they were already applying the principle to design different structures such as the center section of the Asyham near New York.

“This view gains certain credence, however, when it is recognized that the very idea of publicly financed institutions for reformative or reclamatory purpose, was at this time, almost by definition philanthropic” (Evans 24). The statement asserts that the power of the mind enabled architects to develop sublime designs not necessarily because they were knowledgeable of certain design principles, but because the designs were conjured up in their minds.

I disagree with the author’s position. The evidence available shows that the social purposes for which the architectural structures were erected were determined to a significant extent by the existing architectural forms and not any other philosophies. The social purposes were the drivers of the principles that were adopted for designing the structures.

“It was one of the mainstays of Bentham’s utilitarian philosophy that any human act could be regarded as leading to a certain quantum of pleasure or pain, either with respect to an individual or mankind in general” (Evans 25). The statement alludes that the mathematics of pain could be enforced using the Panopticon principle and wrongdoing could be forestalled by indirectly obstructing the paths to depravity, which is exemplified in a type of architectural structure erected to house prisoners and the use of light in those structures.

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I am in agreement with the statement because the author asserts that forestalling wrongdoing could be achieved by correctly enforcing pain. Pain can be enforced to forestall evil by using architectural forms that deny the occupants of the buildings such as the delinquents the light that could enable them to do evil activities. Using unlimited inspections on delinquents and different aspects of artifacts to manipulate the universe, it could prevent the peculiar race of human beings from becoming delinquents.

Works Cited

Evans, Robin. “Bentham’s panopticon: An incident in the social history of architecture.” Architectural Association Quarterly 3.2 (1971): 21-37.Print

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Premium Papers. (2022) '“Bentham’s Panopticon” by Robin Evans'. 12 April.

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Premium Papers. 2022. "“Bentham’s Panopticon” by Robin Evans." April 12, 2022. https://premium-papers.com/benthams-panopticon-by-robin-evans/.

1. Premium Papers. "“Bentham’s Panopticon” by Robin Evans." April 12, 2022. https://premium-papers.com/benthams-panopticon-by-robin-evans/.


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