Intellectual Development and School Life of John Stuart MillJune 27, 2021
John Stuart Mill, born in London in 1806 and died in Avignon, France in 1873, 19th century. He is among the most influential intellectuals in England.
Although he never went to school throughout his life, thanks to the education he received from his father, he gained an important place among the famous English thinkers of the period from a very young age, and thus he had the opportunity to work and exchange ideas with many famous intellectuals. In this way, Mill both influenced them and was influenced by these famous intellectuals. However, it is thought that he was more influenced by some thinkers in this relationship he had with the famous intellectuals of the period and that these effects had important effects on his utilitarian moral understanding.
Now, it is necessary to briefly discuss who these famous intellectuals were influenced by and in what ways they influenced him. One of the most important people who influenced Mill’s intellectual development was his father, James Mill (1773-1836), who was among the most famous thinkers of the period. James Mill is especially the person who played a leading role in John Stuart Mill’s upbringing as a strict Benthammer and utilitarian.
After James Mill, the most influential person in Mill’s intellectual life is Jeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism. Especially through James Mill, who was a staunch Benthamist, John Stuart Mill was raised in a strict adherence to Bentham’s ideas in the early stages of his intellectual development.
Another person who had an important influence on Mill’s intellectual life was the famous French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857), the founder of positivism. Mill was influenced by Comte’s theory of the three-state law, positive methodology, and his thoughts on the need for society to be governed by an enlightened class, and included these ideas in his utilitarian moral understanding.
Thomas Carlyle (1798-1857), one of the famous romantics of the period, is another name that has an important place in Mill’s intellectual life. Her most important role in Mill’s life is to enable Mill to discover romance, to see the problematic points in his father’s and Bentham’s utilitarian understandings. In addition, his criticisms of utilitarianism led Mill to work in the field of morality. Another person who had a significant influence on Mill’s intellectual life was Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834). His conservative views were influential on Mill and these views formed the basis of conservative thoughts within utilitarianism.
The last person to be mentioned in terms of Mill’s intellectual life is his wife, Harriet Taylor (1807-1858), whom he married in 1851, with whom he lived in Avignon. The extent to which Taylor influenced Mill’s ideas is one of the most important debates about Mill today. However, although the extent of his influence is debatable, it is a generally accepted view among critics in the relationship between the two that Harriet Taylor influenced Mill to show interest in feminism and socialism. Admittedly, it is not possible to limit the entire intellectual development of a thinker like Mill to these six people. 19th century Besides these great thinkers of England, Mill was also influenced by other famous intellectuals of the period such as Alexis Charles Henri Clerel de Tocqueville (1805-1859), William Wordsworth (1770-1850), David Ricardo (1772-1823).
Explaining Mill’s intellectual development by adhering only to individuals will be an incomplete approach to reveal how his utilitarian moral understanding has undergone a transformation. Because, in our opinion, Mill’s intellectual development had as important effects as the events he experienced in his life, at least as much as the famous thinkers mentioned above. We think that three events in particular have a great importance in Mill’s life. The first of these events, and the most important one for us, was the mental depression he had in the autumn of 1826. This crisis and the effects of this event on Mill are at the forefront of the discussions about him today. In his autobiography, he wrote, “Let us assume that you have achieved all your goals in life, and that all the theoretical and intellectual changes you have been pursuing are happening right now. Will that make you very happy? That irrepressible self-consciousness replied in a peculiar way: “No!” At that moment something pierced my heart, the whole foundation on which my life was built collapsed. However, all my happiness stemmed from pursuing this goal. The target had lost its appeal. Then what would the tools mean, it was as if I had no reason to live.” This crisis, which he expressed as the following, was very influential in his life of thought, and when he got rid of the depression, he began to review his commitment to the thought of James Mill and Bentham.
Two other important events that were influential in Mill’s intellectual development, the first was Bentaham’s death in 1832 and the second was the death of James Mill in 1836.