John Stuart Mill was a famous British philosopher who gained fame as his contribution to the cause of the struggle for women’s rights.
Childhood and Adult Life
John Stuart Mill was born on May 20, 1806 in London, in the Pentonville area. His father, James Mill, was an outstanding historian, philosopher and economist. The boy’s mother was Garriet Burrow. Following the instructions of the social reformers, Jeremiah Bentham and Francis Place, the father directs all his forces to the upbringing of his son. John deliberately protects from all communication with his peers. The whole point is that the father, an ardent follower of Jeremiah Bentham, sought to cultivate a genius who would continue the utilitarian cause after Bentham and himself. Mill Jr. was really a very smart boy. At the age of three he is given lessons in the Greek language, and at eight he already reads the fables of Aesop, Anabasis by Xenophon and the works of Herodotus. He also gets acquainted with the works of Lucian, Diogenes of Laertes, Isocrates and six dialogues of Plato. John is taught arithmetic and read an extended course of history. At the age of eight, Mill Jr. studies Latin, Euclidean geometry and algebra, and is already fully capable of independently teaching his younger brothers and sisters. Taking up the works of famous Greek and Latin authors, John freely reads the works of Plato and Demosthenes in the original.
Father believed that his son would be useful to study poetry and write poetry on his own. The earliest test of John’s pen was the continuation of the “Illyada.” In his free time, the boy is read by the popular at that time novels “Don Quixote” and “Robinson Crusoe.” At the age of twelve, he studies scholastic logic, guided by the original works of Aristotle. A year later, John became acquainted with political economy. Together with his father, he studies the work of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, completing their classic view of the factors of production. Thanks to his daily activities with his son, James Mill completed his work on “Elements of Political Economy” in 1821. When the boy turns fourteen, he is sent to France for a whole year, to the family of Samuel Bentham, the brother of Jeremiah Bentham. Beautiful mountain landscapes and the living nature of the French fell into John’s liking. However, he does not forget about his studies, and devotes all winter to chemistry,
zoology and logic lessons in Montpellier. In Paris, he stops at the house of Jean-Baptist Cey, a friend of his father. During his stay there, Mill gets acquainted with many leading representatives of the Liberal Party and prominent personalities, including Henry Saint-Simon.
However, such intensified, excessive lessons have caused considerable damage to the boy’s mental health. At the age of 20 he experiences a serious nervous breakdown. But, largely thanks to the fascination with the “Memoirs of Jean-François Marmontel” and the poetry of William Wordsworth, the depression soon recedes. At the beginning of the 1820s, the boy meets Augustine Comte, the founder of positivism and sociology, with whom he will continue to correspond for a long time. Comte’s positive philosophy contributes to the complete rejection of Balthamism by Mill, and later to the rejection of Anglican religious principles. The consequence of this is John’s refusal to enter Oxford or Cambridge. Instead, Mill Jr. works with his father in the East India Company, which will work until 1858. In 1865-1868, Mr.. he will be an honorary rector of St. Andrews University. At the same time, he is a member of Parliament in the districts of the City and Westminster, actively advocating the easing of oppression in Ireland. In 1866, Mill leads the Parliament in the struggle for women’s rights. However, his services as a politician are not limited to this: he also works hard on social reforms, advocating the creation of trade unions and agricultural cooperatives.
Mill’s Treatise on Freedom deals with the nature and limit of power that society can justifiably have over an individual. One of Mill’s most significant achievements was the theory of harm principles, which states that a person has the right to act according to his wishes, as long as it does not harm others. He also argues that free discourse is a necessary condition for intellectual and social progress. According to Mill, expressing false opinions is permissible in two cases. In the first case, a person will willingly give up his false opinion if he is involved in the process of exchange of ideas. In the second, if a person is forced to review and reaffirm his beliefs in the debate, it will help to avoid turning false opinions into beliefs.
Mill considered the position of women in society to be an important question, and therefore made great efforts to expand their rights. His work can be called one of the earliest examples of feminism. In his article “The enslavement of women,” he discusses the role of a woman in marriage and the changes needed in her. According to Mill, the statement of a woman as a full member of society is hampered by three factors: social and sexual constitution, education and marriage. This article is one of the first feminist works written by the author of the male. According to Mill, the oppression of women is a relic of the past and largely detains the progress of mankind.
In his work “Utilitarianism,” Mill formulates his famous “principle of greatest happiness,” according to which, within reason, a person must always act in such a way as to bring as much happiness as possible to the greatest possible number of people. The main contribution of Mill to the theory of utilitarianism are the arguments in favor of the separation of pleasures on qualitative grounds. His views differ from Bentham’s ideas in that the latter considered all forms of happiness to be identical, while Mill argued that intellectual and moral pleasures stand above physical forms of joys. According to Mill, happiness has more value than satisfaction. Confirmation of the difference between happiness, higher and lower, he calls that people who have experienced both of its forms tend to prefer one form of another.
In 1851, after a friendship that lasted 21 years, Mill marries Garriet Taylor. It is she who has a decisive influence on most of her husband’s work. However, in 1858, seven years after the wedding, Garriet Taylor died of severe obstruction of the lungs.
Mill died in 1873, in the French city of Avignon. He was buried next to his wife.