Faramerz Dabhoiwala at The Guardian:
As he lay dying in the spring of 1832, the great philosopher Jeremy Bentham left detailed directions for the preservation of his corpse. First, it was to be publicly dissected in front of an invited audience. Then, the preserved head and skeleton were to be reassembled, clothed, and displayed “in the attitude in which I am sitting when engaged in thought and writing”. His desire to be preserved forever was a political statement. As the foremost secular thinker of his time, he wanted to use his body, as he had his mind, to defy religious superstitions and advance real, scientific knowledge. Almost 200 years later, Bentham's “auto-icon” still sits, staring off into space, in the cloisters of University College London.
Nowadays Bentham is hardly a household name. Yet his ideas have proved extraordinarily influential in law, economics, philosophy and politics. Among other things, he was the inventor of the modern doctrine of utilitarianism, the foundational theorist of legal positivism, and the first exponent of cost-benefit analysis. If you've ever weighed up the pros and cons of doing something, you're treading in his footsteps.