Philosopher. He will be remembered as one of the greatest exponents of Utilitarian ethics, free market economics, and expanded democracy. His father, James Mill, a Scotsman, was an executive with the East India Company where Mill would later start at the age of seventeen. His father drilled him from an early age in a broad range of academic disciplines, including the study of Greek at the age of three, Latin at eight, algebra and world history by twelve, and he was responsible for teaching his younger siblings. He never actually attended a university. In his early twenties, this rigorous schooling produced a backlash, and Mill sank into depression for the first time; he battled this problem his entire life. He was not prepared for real life. He emerged from these doldrums, however, through a renewed appreciation of poetry and ethics, as well as with the help of his frequent collaborator in his writings, Harriet Hardy, the wife of John Taylor. When Harriet became a widow, they married in 1851. Mill's work was diverse and influential. His governing principle was informed by Jeremy Bentham's philosophy of Utilitarianism. His father was a close friend of Bentham. In Mill's own words: "Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness." He was a prominent publisher in the reforming age of the 19th Century. He published his thoughts, along with many other thinkers and writers, in his radical periodical, the “Westminster Review,” which continued for years later after being sold to John Chapman. Mills elaborated on these ideas with his treatise "Utilitarianism" in 1863. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of his ethics was his assertion that ethics were not natural, and that what is usually considered criminal activity is actually very much in keeping with the workings of the animal kingdom. Ethical behavior, then, is a constructed way of life designed to produce the greatest good for the greatest number, not just for the strongest members of society. His best known economic work, "The Principles of Political Economy" in 1848 followed the "hands-off" viewpoint of Adam Smith in most ways, stressing the need for free and open markets, but also offered some criticism of Smith's "laissez-faire". This text would be the most influential work on economics of the era, and in many ways anticipates the "game theory" school of the twentieth century. Though Mill would also achieve standing as a critic of literature and art, he was probably best known for his essay "On Liberty" in 1859, which called for voting rights and personal liberty for all people, regardless of class or gender, and stressed the need for universal education to ensure a strong, informed electorate; Mill would elaborate on his views of gender equality in "The Subjection of Women" in 1869. In 1865, Mill was elected to the British Parliament, where he worked for women's suffrage, land reform in Ireland, and the prosecution of Governor Eyre for atrocities committed during his administration of Jamaica. Promoting challenging causes, he was largely unsuccessful as a member of parliament; he did not win a second term retiring from politics in 1868. Having no religious upbringing as a child, he never developed one as an adult; he wrote “Three Essays on Religion". After being with the East Indian Company for 35 years, he retired in 1858. Six weeks later, while he and his wife toured France, she died and was buried there. He purchased a home near the cemetery, but returned to England to continue his writings. Other writings include “System of Logic” and his “Autobiography.” When he died, he was buried next to his wife in France.
Bio by: Stuthehistoryguy