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John Stuart Mill

(May 20, 1806 – May 8, 1873)


John Stuart Mill, who has been called the most famous and influential
English-speaking philosopher of the 19th century, was a British
philosopher, economist, and moral and political theorist. Also, one of the
most influential thinkers in the history of liberalism, he contributed widely to
social theory, political theory and political economy

His works include books and essays covering logic, epistemology,


economics, social and political philosophy, ethics, and religion, among
them, his most popular works are A System of Logic, On Liberty, and
Utilitarianism.
Brief history of his life (trivia)

John Stuart Mill was born on Rodney Street in the Penton Ville area of
London, the eldest son of the Scottish philosopher, historian and economist
James Mill, and Harriet Burrow.

John Stuart was educated entirely by his father, James Mill, with the
advice and assistance of Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place. He was
deliberately shielded from association with children his own age other than
his siblings. • From his earliest years, he was subjected to a rigid system of
intellectual discipline

His father’s aim to make him genius intellect that would carry on the
cause of utilitarianism and its implementation after he and Bentham had
died.

At the very small age of three, he was taught Greek and by the age of
six, He wrote the book "History of Rome" . From the ages 7-12, he was
reading the likes of Plato in Greek (age 7), Sophocles, Thucydides,
Demosthenes (age 8), Popes translation (age 9), Aristotle (age 11), As he
went to read all the known authors of Latin and Greek language, he, at the
age of ten, could easily read the Plato and Demosthenes.

Then at age of thirteen, he was introduced to political economy. By the


age of 14, John was extremely well versed in the Greek and Latin classics;
had studied world history, logic and mathematics; and had mastered the
basics of economic theory, all of which was part of his father’s plan to make
John Stuart Mill a young proponent of the views of the philosophical
radicals

At the of twenty, he suffered from a serious nervous breakdown. He claims


this was caused by the great physical and the mental effort of his studies
which had suppressed any feelings he might have developed normally in
childhood. Nevertheless, soon his depression started fading with the
reading of Mémoires of Jean-François Marmontel and the poetry of William
Wordsworth.
In 1832, Jeremy Bentham died, followed closely by James Mill in 1836.
With the deaths of his two mentors, Mill discovered that he had even more
intellectual freedom. He used that freedom to create a new philosophic
radicalism incorporating the ideas of thinkers such as Coleridge and
Thomas Carlyle. He also acknowledged that while he was breaking away
from Bentham, there were aspects of his mentor’s philosophy that he
intended to preserve

The major works started to appear in 1843 with A System of Logic,


Mill’s most comprehensive and systematic philosophical work, which
presented Mills’ thoughts on inductive logic and the shortcomings of the
use of syllogisms (arguments derived from general principles, in which two
premises are used to deduce a conclusion) to advance deductive logic

The year 1859 marked the publication of On Liberty, Mills’ landmark


work on supporting individuals' moral and economic freedom from the
government and society at large. In his autobiography, Mill wrote of "the
importance, to man and society . . . , of giving full freedom to human nature
to expand itself in innumerable and conflicting directions,” an idea fully
fleshed out in On Liberty. In the work, Mill asserts that individuals’ opinions
and behavior should enjoy free rein, whether in the face of the law or social
pressure. Perhaps as a segue into Mill’s Utilitarianism, which would follow
four years later, Mill makes one concession: If a person's behavior harms
other people, that behavior should be constrained. The essay has been
criticized for various vagaries in its arguments, but it provides an
impassioned defense of nonconformity, diversity and individuality.

In 1861, Utilitarianism first began appearing in serialized form in


Fraser’s Magazine. The work comes from Mill’s association with, and
partial break from, the moral philosophy of Jeremy Bentham and would go
on to be Mill’s most famous work. It bolsters support for Bentham's
philosophy and refutes certain misconceptions about it. In sum,
utilitarianism as a moral philosophy rests on a single sentence: “Actions are
right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend
to produce the reverse of happiness.” In his book, Mill argues that
utilitarianism stems from "natural" sentiments that exist organically within
human beings' social nature. Therefore, if society were simply to embrace
acts that minimize pain and maximize happiness, the standards created
would form an easily and naturally internalized code of ethics. In his
exploration of this issue, Mill transcends discussions of good and evil, and
humanity’s fascination with concepts of them, and posits a single criterion
for a universal morality.

J.S Mill married Harriet Taylor after a 21 year intimate friendship


seeing as Taylor was already married when they first met. She was a
significant influence to his studies. She was a big influence to Mill's final
revision of "On Liberty", which was shortly published after she died in 1858.

1865-1868
· He served as Lord Rector of the University of St. Andrews.
· He was also an MP of City and Westminster and was often associated
with the Liberal Party.
· He was the 1st person in the history of Parliament to call for the women to
have the right to vote.

He was godfather to the philosopher Bertrand Russell. • On his


religious views, Mill was an atheist. • He died in 1873 of erysipelas, an
acute streptococcus bacterial infection, also known as"St. Anthony's fire" in
Avignon, France, where he was buried alongside his wife.