Mill, John Stuart

Mill, John Stuart
English philosopher and economist, and the most influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. As the son of James Mill, John Stuart was given an intensive private education, in which he began Greek at the age of three, and Latin (and six of the Dialogues of Plato) at the age of eight (Mill himself remarks that the Theaetetus might have been a little much for him). As a teenager he was immersed in his father's philosophical and political interests until a nervous breakdown at the age of twenty led to a revaluation, and softening, of his Benthamite position. Thereafter, influenced by Saint-Simon and others, Mill maintained a more sophisticated appreciation of the historical forces moulding peoples' ideas, and a less cynical view of the forces of reaction. From 1831 his friendship with the married Harriet Taylor was central to Mill's life; in 1849 after the death of her husband they married. Harriet Taylor died in 1858 in Avignon; the nature of her influence on Mill's thought is interesting and complex.
In general philosophy, Mill was an empiricist whose aim was to construct a genuine system of empirical knowledge for use in social and moral affairs as much as in science. To this end he set about rescuing the doctrine from its sceptical, Humean associations. His major discussion of the foundations of knowledge and inference is the System of Logic (1843), whose six books treat of deductive inference in general, mathematical knowledge, induction (see Mill's methods ), observation, abstraction and classification, fallacies, and finally social, political, and moral sciences. His distinctions, between connotation and denotation, and between general and singular terms, influenced the later semantics of Frege (who, however, roundly rejected his empiricist ‘pebble and gingerbread’ view of arithmetic); while his work on induction is still the foundation of methodologies of discovering causal laws. As in his later Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy (1865), Mill's project is that which has subsequently been called naturalized epistemology : the attempt to understand mental operations as the upshot of known laws of psychology working on the data of experience.
In ethics, Mill is best remembered for his Utilitarianism (1861 in Fraser's Magazine, 1863 as a separate publication), and On Liberty (1859). Each is a classic of its kind, although Utilitarianism suffers a Victorian strain in its combination of hedonism with distinctions of quality between pleasures, as well as an uneasy blend of act-utilitarian and rule-utilitarian elements (see utilitarianism ). It was the principal target of all subsequent critics of utilitarianism, and especially the idealists Green and Bradley . On Liberty is the classic defence of the principle of freedom of thought and discussion, arguing that the ‘sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection’. Among his other works, Mill wrote the Principles of Political Economy (1848), and the Subjection of Women (1861, published in 1869).

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  • Mill,John Stuart — Mill, John Stuart. 1806 1873. British philosopher and economist known especially for his interpretations of empiricism and utilitarianism. His many works include A System of Logic (1843), Principles of Political Economy (1848), and The Subjection …   Universalium

  • Mill, John Stuart — (1806–1873)    The preeminent intellectual of Victorian Britain and the central philosopher of nineteenth century liberalism. Brought up according to the educational theories of his father James Mill, a follower of Jeremy Bentham, and also a… …   Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914

  • Mill, John Stuart — born May 20, 1806, London, Eng. died May 8, 1873, Avignon, France British philosopher and economist, the leading expositor of utilitarianism. He was educated exclusively and exhaustively by his father, James Mill. By age 8 he had read in the… …   Universalium

  • Mill, John Stuart — (1806 1873)    Philosopher, s. of the above, b. in London, was ed. by his f. with the view of making him the successor of Bentham and himself, as the exponent of the Utilitarian philosophy. In all respects he proved an apt pupil, and by his 15th… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Mill, John Stuart: Ethics and politics — J.S.Mill Ethics and politics R.F.Khan ON LIBERTY John Stuart Mill’s mature views on ethics and politics are to be found in On Liberty (published in 1859), Utilitarianism (1861), Considerations on Representative Government (1861) and The… …   History of philosophy

  • Mill, John Stuart: Logic and metaphysics — J.S.Mill Logic and metaphysics John Skorupski ENLIGHTENMENT AND ROMANTICISM IN MILL’S PHILOSOPHY Mill’s importance as one of the major figures of nineteenth century politics and culture, and the current interest in him as a moral and political… …   History of philosophy

  • Mill, John Stuart — ► (1806 73) Economista y filósofo británico. De 1865 a 1868 fue miembro de la Cámara de los Comunes donde, en concordancia con su ideal liberal, exigió la intervención del Estado en bien de la clase obrera y por la igualdad de los derechos de la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Mill, John Stuart — (1806 73) An English philosopher, proponent of liberalism and utilitarianism , and social reformer, who attempted to provide ‘a general science of man in society’ in his A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Deductive (1843). Ronald Fletcher (The… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • MILL, JOHN STUART —    logician and economist, born in London, son of the preceding; was educated pedantically by his father; began to learn Greek at 3, could read it and Latin at 14, never was a boy, he says, and was debarred from all imaginative literature, so… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • MILL, John Stuart — (1806 1873)    British philosopher, essayist and political activist whose work still indirectly influences many academic disciplines including SOCIOLOGY, political SCIENCE, economics and the PHILOSOPHY of science. His best known works are… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

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