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John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill (May 20, 1806 - May 8, 1873) an English philosopher and economist, was the most influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was an advocate of utilitarianism, the ethical theory first proposed by his godfather Jeremy Bentham.

The life of John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill was born in his father's house in Pentonville, London, the eldest son of James Mill. Mill was educated by his father, with the advice and assistance of Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place[?]. He was given an extremely rigorous upbringing, and was deliberately shielded from association with boys his own age. His father, a follower of Bentham[?] and an adherent of associationism[?], had as his explicit aim to create a genius intellect that would carry on the cause of utilitarianism and its implementation after he and Bentham were dead.

His feats as a child were exceptional; at the age of three he was taught the Greek alphabet and long lists of Greek words with their English equivalents. By the age of eight he had read Aesop's Fables, Xenophon's Anabasis, and the whole of Herodotus, and was acquainted with Lucian, Diogenes Laėrtius, Isocrates and six dialogues of Plato (see his Autobiography). He had also read a great deal of history in English.

A contemporary record of Mill's studies from eight to thirteen is published in Bain's sketch of his life. It suggests that his autobiography rather understates the amount of work done! At the age of eight he began Latin, Euclid, and algebra, and was appointed schoolmaster to the younger children of the family. His main reading was still history, but he went through all the Latin and Greek authors commonly read in the schools and universities at the time. He was not taught to compose either in Latin or in Greek, and he was never an exact scholar; it was for the subject matter that he was required to read, and by the age of ten he could read Plato and Demosthenes with ease. His father's History of India was published in 1818; immediately thereafter, about the age of twelve, John began a thorough study of the scholastic logic, at the same time reading Aristotle's logical treatises in the original. In the following year he was introduced to political economy and studied Adam Smith and Ricardo with his father--ultimately completing their classical economic view of factors of production.

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