Life and Writings
John Stuart Mill was born in London on May 20, 1806, and was the eldest of son of James Mill. He was educated entirely
by his father, James Mill, and was deliberately shielded from association with other boys of his age. From his earliest years,
he was subjected to a rigid system of intellectual discipline. As a result of this system, according to his own account, he
believed this gave him an advantage of a quarter of a century over his contemporaries. Mill recognized, in later life, that
his father's system had the fault of appealing to the intellect only and that the culture of his practical and emotional life
had been neglected, while his physical health was probably undermined by the strenuous labor exacted from him. James Mill's
method seems to have been designed to make his son's mind a first-rate thinking machine, so that the boy might become a prophet
of the utilitarian gospel. He had no doubts at the outset of his career. On reading Bentham (this was when he was fifteen
or sixteen) the feeling rushed upon him "that all previous moralists were superseded." The principle of the utility, he says,
understood and applied as it was by Bentham, "gave unity to my conception of things. I now had opinions; a creed, a doctrine,
a philosophy; in one among the best senses of the word, a religion; the inculcation and diffusion of which could be made the
principle outward purpose of a life." Soon afterwards he formed a small Utilitarian Society, and, for some few years,
he was one of "a small knot of young men" who adopted his father's philosophical and political views "with youthful fanaticism."
A position under his father in the India Office had secured him against the misfortune of having to depend on literary work
for his livelihood; and he found that office-work left him ample leisure for the pursuit of his wider interests.
He was already coming to be looked upon as a leader of thought when, in his twenty-first year, the mental crisis occurred
which is described in his Autobiography. This crisis was a result of the severe strain, physical and mental, to which
he had been subjected from his earliest years. He was "in a dull state of nerves;" the objects of his life for which he had
been trained and for which he had worked lost their charm; he had "no delight in virtue, or the general good, but also just
as little in anything else;" a constant habit of analysis had dried up the fountains of feeling within him. After many months
of despair he found, accidentally, that the capacity for emotion was not dead, and "the cloud gradually drew off". Another
important factor in his life was Mrs. Taylor, who co-authored pieces with him. He maintained a close relationship with her
for many years while she was married. When her husband died, Mill married her in 1851. His work in connection with the literary
journals was enormous. He wrote articles almost without number and on an endless variety of subjects (philosophical, political,
economic, social). They began with The Westminster Review and extended to other magazinesespecially The London Review
and, afterwards, The London and Westminster Review. They were valuable as enabling us to trace the development of his
opinions, the growth of his views in philosophy, and the gradual modification of his radicalism in politics.
His first great intellectual work was his System of Logic, R atiocinative and Inductive, which appeared in 1843.
This was followed, in due course by his Essays on some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy (1844), and Principles
of Political Economy (1848). In 1859 appeared his little treatise On Liberty, and his Thoughts on Parliamentary
Reform. His Considerations on Representative Government belongs to the year 1860; and in 1863 (after first appearing
in magazine form) came his Utilitarianism. In the Parliament of 1865-68, he sat as Radical member for Westminister.
He advocated three major things in the House of Commonswomen suffrage, the interests of the laboring classes, and land reform
in Ireland. In 1865, came his Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy; in 1867, his Rectorial Inaugural
Address at St. Andrews University, on the value of culture; in 1868, his pamphlet on England and Ireland; and in
1869, his treatise on The Subjection of Women. Also in 1869, his edition of his father's Analysis of the Phenomena
of the Human Mind was published. Mill died at Avignon in 1873. After his death were published his Autobiography
(1873) and Three Essays on Religion: Nature, the Utility of Religion, and Theism (1874), written between 1830 and 1870.
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