John Stuart Mill

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

Mill, John Stuart,

1806–73, British philosopher and economist. A precocious child, he was educated privately by his father, James MillMill, James,
1773–1836, British philosopher, economist, and historian, b. Scotland; father of John Stuart Mill. Educated as a clergyman at Edinburgh through the patronage of Sir John Stuart, Mill gave up the ministry and went to London in 1802 to pursue a career writing
..... Click the link for more information.
. In 1823, abandoning the study of law, he became a clerk in the British East India CompanyEast India Company, British,
1600–1874, company chartered by Queen Elizabeth I for trade with Asia. The original object of the group of merchants involved was to break the Dutch monopoly of the spice trade with the East Indies.
..... Click the link for more information.
, where he rose to become head of the examiner's office by the time of the company's dissolution (1858). During this period he contributed to various periodicals, becoming a popular journalist, and met with discussion groups, one of which included Thomas MacaulayMacaulay, Thomas Babington, 1st Baron,
1800–1859, English historian and author, b. Leicestershire, educated at Cambridge. After the success of his essay on Milton in the Edinburgh Review (Aug.
..... Click the link for more information.
, to explore the problems of political theory. His A System of Logic (1843) was followed in 1848 by the Principles of Political Economy, which influenced English radical thought. In 1851, two years after the death of her husband, he married Harriet Taylor, whom he had loved for 20 years. She died in 1858, and Mill, profoundly affected, dedicated to her the famous On Liberty (1859), on which they had worked together. His Utilitarianism was published in 1863, and Auguste Comte and Positivism appeared in 1865. From 1865 to 1868 Mill served as a member of Parliament, after which he retired, spending much of his time at Avignon, France, where his wife was buried and where he died. His celebrated Autobiography appeared during the year of his death.

John Stuart Mill's philosophy followed the doctrines of his father and his father's mentor, Jeremy BenthamBentham, Jeremy,
1748–1832, English philosopher, jurist, political theorist, and founder of utilitarianism. Educated at Oxford, he was trained as a lawyer and was admitted to the bar, but he never practiced; he devoted himself to the scientific analysis of morals and
..... Click the link for more information.
, but he sought to temper them with humanitarianism. At times Mill came close to socialism, a theory repugnant to his predecessors. In logic, he formulated rules for the inductive process, and he stressed the method of empiricism as the source of all knowledge. In his ethics, he pointed out the possibility of a sentiment of unity and solidarity that may even develop a religious character, as in Comte's religion of humanity. In addition he introduced into the utilitarian calculus of pleasure a qualitative principle that goes far beyond the simpler conception of quantity (see utilitarianismutilitarianism
, in ethics, the theory that the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by its usefulness in bringing about the most happiness of all those affected by it.
..... Click the link for more information.
). He constantly advocated political and social reforms, such as proportional representation, emancipation of women (he believed in total equality between the sexes), an end to slavery, and the development of labor organizations and farm cooperatives. He also strongly supported the Union cause in the American Civil War. Mill's influence has been strong in economics, politics, and philosophy.


See biography by R. Reeves (2008); B. Mazlish, James and John Stuart Mill (1975, repr. 1988); M. Cowling, Mill and Liberalism (1963); J. M. Robson, The Improvement of Mankind: The Social and Political Thought of John Stuart Mill (1968); H. J. McCloskey, John Stuart Mill: A Critical Study (1971); F. H. von Hayek, John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor: Their Correspondence and Subsequent Marriage (1951, repr. 1979); J. Riley, Liberal Utilitarianism: Social Choice Theory and J. S. Mill's Philosophy (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mill, John Stuart


Born May 20, 1806, in London; died May 8, 1873, in Avignon. English positivist philosopher. Economist. Public figure.

John Stuart Mill was the son of James Mill, under whose guidance he received a comprehensive education. From 1823 to 1858 he served in the East India Company. As a member of the House of Commons from 1865 to 1868 he supported liberal and democratic reforms.

Mill’s world view developed under the influence of the political economy of D. Ricardo, the utilitarianism of J. Bentham, the philosophy of G. Berkeley and D. Hume, and the associative psychology of D. Hartley and James Mill. His philosophical views are expressed in An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy (1865; Russian translation, 1869), in which he rebutted English apriorism from the standpoint of phenomenological positivism. According to Mill, all knowledge is derived from experience, and the object of knowledge is our sensations. Matter is only the constant possibility of sensations, whereas consciousness is the capacity to experience them. Although he shared a number of the philosophical and logical orientations of A. Comte’s positivism, he rejected Comte’s sociopolitical doctrine, seeing in it a system of spiritual and political despotism that ignored the importance of human freedom and individuality (Auguste Comte and Positivism, 1865; Russian translation, 1867).

Mill’s most important work, A System of Logic (vols. 1–2, 1843; most recent Russian translation, 1914), contains an inductionist treatment of logic as the general methodology of the sciences. Mill expounds the doctrines of names and propositions, of deductive (syllogistic) conclusions, of induction and the methods of inductive analysis of causal dependence, of the methods of cognition that are subsidiary to induction, of fallacies, and of the logic of the moral sciences.

In ethics (Utilitarianism, 1863; most recent Russian translation, 1900), Mill also proceeded from the conception of the experiential origin of moral feelings and principles. Developing the utilitarian ethics of Bentham, according to which the value of behavior is determined by the pleasure it brings, Mill recognized not only egocentric aspirations but also disinterested ones. In public life people’s egoism is disciplined because they must take mutual interests into account. Thus, developed moral feeling is revealed in the aspiration to achieve not a maximum of personal happiness but the “greatest common good.”


Condemning the vices of the capitalist system (the worship of money, inequality in property, and the low standard of living of the working people), Mill was an adherent of bourgeois reformism. In Principles of Political Economy and Certain of Their Additions to Social Philosophy (1848; Russian translation, vols. 1–2, 1865), he endeavored to give a systematic account of the ideas of contemporary bourgeois political economy. Seeking to avoid the contradictions characteristic of classical political economy, Mill eclectically merged the views of classical political economy with the distorted, oversimplified views of J. B. Say, N. Senior, and T. Malthus. For this he was criticized by Marx (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23, pp. 17, 624–25, and notes).



Letters, vols. 1–2. London, 1910.
In Russian translation:
O svobode, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1906.
Rassuzhdeniia i issledovaniia politicheskie, filosofskie i istoricheskie, parts 1–3. St. Petersburg, 1864–65.
Razmyshleniia o predstavitel’nom pravlenii, fascs. 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1863–64.
Angliia i Irlandiia. Kharkov, 1873.
Podchinennost’ zhenshchiny. St. Petersburg, 1906.
Avtobiografiia. Moscow, 1896.


Rossel’, lu. “D. S. Mill’ i ego shkola.” Vestnik Evropy, 1874, nos. 5, 6, 7, 10, 12.
Tugan-Baranovskii, M. D. S. Mill’: Ego zhizn’ i ucheno-literaturnaia deiatel’nost’ St. Petersburg, 1892.
Saenger, S. D. St. Mill’ ego zhizn’ i proizvedeniia. St. Petersburg, 1903. (Translated from German.)
Chernyshevskii, N. G. “Ocherki iz politicheskoi ekonomii (po Milliu).” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 9. Moscow, 1949.
Trakhtenberg, O. V. Ocherki po istorii filosofii i sotsiologii Anglii XIX v. Moscow, 1959.
Anschutz, R. P. The Philosophy of J. S. Mill. Oxford, 1953.
Britton, K. J. S. Mill. London, 1953.
Packe, M. S. The Life of J. S. Mill. New York, 1954.
Ryan, A. The Philosophy of J. S. Mill. London, 1970.
McCloskey, H. J. J. S. Mill. New York, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(10) John Stuart Mill, "The Subjection of Women," in The Broadview Anthology of Social and Political Thought: Essential Readings, ed.
James and John Stuart Mill. Father and Son in the Nineteenth Century.
La concepcion teorica de John Stuart Mill abre un debate sobre la conveniencia o no de la adopcion de las politicas paternalistas.
Robson, The Improvement of Mankind: The Social and Political Thought of John Stuart Mill (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968), 7.
Still, such a deep level of analysis does not seem to allow Ben-Porath to fully appreciate other aspects of implementing civic rights which incidentally made Isaia Berlin or John Stuart Mill argue their case against the state's patronage.
Intently aware that movements and changes in philosophical and intellectual currents were merely the by-product of some broader process of natural selection unfolding throughout the nineteenth century, Marshall set about welding together elements from a variegated philosophical fabric consisting of Adam Smith's naturalistic account of moral evolution, Coleridgean metaphysics, William Whewell's idealist philosophy, Alexander Bain's and John Stuart Mill's associationist psychology, John Grote's liberal Anglican philosophy, Hegel's philosophy of history, and much more besides, all coalescing in one of the most singular economic minds of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
John Stuart Mill's On Liberty supports drug legalization because there is no reason why the state should block citizens from consuming any substance they choose at their own risk.
Aflandu-ne in fata unui subiect de cercetare relativ nou, analiza regimului laicitatii si a libertatii religioase impune atat adoptarea unei pozitii mai flexibile privind consecintele si influenta asupra istoriei europene cat si postularea unei formulari ultimative de ordin teoretic pornind de la aspectele teoreticofilosofice ale gandirii lui John Stuart Mill.
Celine's portrayal has the taut suspense of a mystery, but the core of his narrative is anything but; Semmelweis is ultimately emblematic of John Stuart Mill's scathing assessment of human nature, which serves as the epigraph for one of Celine's chapters: "If it were discovered that the truths of geometry might annoy men, they would have been declared false a long time ago." The doctor's tragic life and career result from his desire to help others, an irony that the author seems to relish with equal parts mirth and disdain.
British Utilitarianists such as Jeremy Bentham, James Mill and John Stuart Mill developed utilitarianism as a way to homogenize moral ideas (p.