John Stuart Mill
English philosopher and Economist, and the most influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. As the son of James Mill, John was given an intensive private education, in which he began Greek at the age of three, and Latin (and six of the Dialogues of Plato) at the age of eight (Mill himself remarks that the Theaetetus might have been a little much for him). As a teenager he was immersed in his father's philosophical and political interests until a nervous breakdown at the age of 20 led to a re-evaluation, and softening of his somewhat radical position. Thereafter, influenced by Saint-Simon and others, Mill maintained a more sophisticated appreciation of the historical forces moulding peoples' ideas, and a less cynical view of the forces of reaction. From 1831 his friendship with the married Harriet Taylor was central to Mill's life; in 1849 after the death of her husband they married. Harriet Taylor died in 1858 in Avignon; the nature of her influence on Mill's thought is interesting and complex.
Last modified August 16, 1995.