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Autobiography by John Stuart Mill
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by John Stuart Mill

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John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873), a British philosopher and member of Parliament, was essentially born into the world of deep thinking. His father, James Mill, who was a close friend of Utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham, shielded the young John from outside influences, taught him at home, and groomed him to be one of the most important figures in science and liberal political philosophy. John learned Greek by the age of three, Latin by age seven, and was at a young age "25 years ahead of his peers" intellectually. Though the younger Mill was a proponent of Utilitarianism (which champions the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people), he would break away from the teachings of Bentham and his father, and set out on his own course of inquiry.

His reaction to Utilitarianism was, well, Utilitarian: he surmised that all this deep inquiry about the mechanics of human joy and pain would cause HIM pain, so he went into a depression, which was only remedied by reading copious amounts of Wordsworth. The deep emotional interior landscape of the Romance poetry actualized a part of his inner life that he wasn't hitherto aware of. However, Mill didn't abandon his fate as a social reformer, rather he shifted its focus: he would pursue women's rights and follow an intellectual strain which would lead him to write "On Liberty," one of the bedrock tracts of political philosophy.

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