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John Stuart Mill was born in London on Mary 20, 1806. His father, a philosopher and economist, devoted his life to ensuring that Mill was immersed in history, academia, and knowledge. By the time he was only eight years old, Mill knew Greek and Latin, and was studying algebra. He had already digested volumes of books, including works by Plato, and was overseeing the education of his younger brothers and sisters. Mill began studying logic and economics by the age of twelve and even contributed to his father’s textbook on Ricardian economics, based on the theories of David Ricardo. Mill traveled to France when he was fourteen, and expanded his studies to include zoology and chemistry. He met with many influential Parisians and politicians during his time in France, and developed a fondness for the French mountains.
Mill studied intensely throughout his youth, but suffered a mental breakdown in his early twenties. He believed that his mental health was compromised because he suppressed his natural childhood tendencies in order to excel academically. Subsequently, Mill decided to pursue a career in business rather than attend a university. But his historical and economical intelligence earned him an honorary membership at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He later served at the University of St. Andrews as Lord Rector, and also held a seat in the Parliament for Westminster. It was during his civil service that Mills became active in women’s rights, spearheading the movement to give women the right to vote.
Contribution to Psychology
Although Mill influenced many fields with his views on liberty, feminism, and human rights, his biggest impact may have been in the area of utilitarianism. According to Mill, happiness should be the goal of every individual. He believed in the distinction between moral and intellectual pleasures from physical pleasures. His theories suggest that happiness is superior to contentment and people experience both low and high forms of happiness, preferring one form over the other. He advocated for the advancement of those simple pleasures that brought people happiness and encouraged educated and uneducated people alike to pursue what brought them joy.
Mill’s economic position was one of free trade and a utilitarian society. He felt that government should tax everyone equally and that taxing the rich for working and saving more than the poor was equivalent to theft. With his immense wealth of economic knowledge, Mill published the Principles of Political Economy in 1848, and it quickly became one of the most widely read and accepted works on economics of its time. Mills also contributed his expertise to the fields of justice, welfare, and the environment, but dedicated most of his resources to economics and philosophy.