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John Stuart Mill
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3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  494 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Through Mill's autobiography, the social and political climate of nineteenth century England comes alive. The reader is given new insights into the events of an age: the reform movements, the English-Irish question, the development of democratic principles. With candor and perception, Mill discusses these issues and explains how they influenced his writing and thinking.
Kindle Edition
Published April 16th 2011 (first published 1873)
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Dec 27, 2014 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography, reread
This second reading of Mill's Autobiography has given me a much more benign (if not beneficial) view of the exacting education his father, James Mill, imposed on him as an adolescent. In the intervening years after my initial reading and absorption of Mill's oeuvre I had romanticized that early education into something far more brutal than it now appears to me to have been. In fact, his father's austere pedagogy seems nothing more than an autodidact's projection of his own self-imposed, self-dis ...more
Jun 26, 2011 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Think you're pretty smart? Think you've read a lot of books? Think you've had a rigorous education? Prepare to be utterly humbled. Excellent slim volume about a brilliant and also a very good man.
It is good to know there is someone out there in the world with even less originality when it comes to titles than I have. Of course, it probably was the style of the time.
I'm encouraged anyway.
I liked Autobiography. Mill's writing is tight and well-written. His life is interesting and he does a good job examining the sources (books and people) that shaped his life. It does get a tad long when reading about said sources at 1 am, but otherwise I found it enjoyable and interesting. His enthusias
Jaakko Ojala
Apr 22, 2013 Jaakko Ojala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading John Stuart Mill's life is like reading a book of fantasy. This man was to a very large extent a product of an experiment of his father - a child genius, a troubled man. I like this book for the same reason that I liked Justin Martyr's First Apology. The man seems so completely honest with himself and everything else that one feels very secure reading what he has to say. Mostly due to his strange upbringing and undoubtedly also due to his own sin, he is often wrong, but never boring and ...more
Jul 25, 2010 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, history
I thought that this book would be more interesting and insightful than it actually was. Amidst a boring recounting of various details of his life, there were three aspects of this book that I found interesting: (i) Mill's childhood education was extremely rigorous, time-consuming, and broad; (ii) Mill's depression midway through his life is a well articulated portrait of clinical depression; (iii) Various strategies that Mill employed in doing his work. For example, every time he would write som ...more
Jul 07, 2010 Bria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now we have a blueprint for manufacturing geniuses, so we may as well run an experiment with a control group to see if anybody can be turned into one. GO!
John Jr.
Apr 22, 2012 John Jr. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Valuable for many reasons, among them:

• Its account of Mill's early education. Mill was at first homeschooled, by his father; he began learning Greek when he was three and Latin at eight. Training in the classical languages wasn't unusual and hadn't been even in Shakespeare's time, but training at such an early age pretty certainly was.

• Mill's discussion of how, at age 20, he fell into what we now call depression (Mill terms it a "dry heavy dejection") and of how he got out of it. Suffice it to
منى الجبريني
الكتاب مهم من الناحية الفكرية و التاريخية ،حيث يعرض الكاتب سيرة تطوره الفكرية و أهم الأشخاص الذين أثروا في حياته بدءًا من والده و بنثام و غيرهم من المفكرين و السياسيين ،مما يكشف جزءًا هامًا من الحياة السياسية و الفكرية للمجتمع الانجليزي في بدايات القرن التاسع عشر ، أعجبني إشادته بدور زوجته و ابنتها في حياتها و حزنه الشديد بعد وفاة زوجته كما أثار اهتمامي طريقة نشأته الأولى في الصغر و اكتسابه مهارات النقد و التفكير المنطقي في سن صغير جدًا مقارنة بالعصر الحالي .
الكتاب يعيبه الملل في بعض الأجزاء لك
David Redden
May 27, 2013 David Redden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unexpectedly pleasant autobiography written by one of the 18th Century's leading thinkers in such riveting topics as political and social theory. I expected it to be pretty dry, but I think the better word for it is "reserved." He talks about his rigorous homeschooling by his father, his writing, and his shoulder-rubbing with all sorts of other 18th Century British thinkers (including Jeremy Bentham), and his time in parliament. But where his humanity and sweetness really comes through is whe ...more
I knew this guy is a cunning Platonic fox! He really is! Perhaps I could keep my eyeballs for a little while.
The feeling that John Stuart Mill might be a more profound philosopher-king than my imagination haunts me ever since I started reading On Liberty. Mill, as a sophisticated example, answered to the criterion of reading and over-reading. Some tricky ones would give you the threads right at the beginning, and then everything they said holds, but in completely different sense, if you follow t
Jim Leckband
Jul 12, 2015 Jim Leckband rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much has been made of the regimen that J.S. Mill's father put his son through in his childhood - Greek, Latin when he was three etc. - that is detailed in the autobiography's first part. But it is humility and (I'll just say it) goodness that radiate from what he did afterwards that is what made this book so readable.

Mill is famous for "utilitarianism", a philosophy of focusing actions for the greater good. He would be the first to say that Jeremy Bentham did the lion's share of the work, but Mi
Sep 10, 2016 Cici rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My uninformed impression of John Stuart Mill's education is that of an over-fed, fast-cooked tragedy. A child prodigy handcrafted by an egoistic and demanding father speeds into deep neurosis. However, reading the first three chapters of his "autobiography", I was surprised to learn much about the moral probity and industry of his father. What a devoted combination of care and patience! This is not about customizing one's offspring for greater success in the world, but of a palpable devotion to ...more
Oct 23, 2008 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used to think it was a sign of neglect that my parents didn't ensure I had a more rigorous education. Now I understand that they were actually doing their best to help me avoid suicidal depression. Mom. Dad. Thanks guys. Sorry I doubted you.
Luke Meehan
Aug 27, 2013 Luke Meehan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully well-paced and accessible autobiography that includes quick and clear summations of some of Mill's best ideas.
Recommended reading for economists!
Jul 30, 2010 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book has solidified my admiration for John Stuart Mill. Someone needs to make a movie about his life.
About 20% of this is extremely fascinating. The rest is really hard to like, even if you really like Mill.
Jan 05, 2008 Elaine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in education and genius.
Dec 01, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Somehow simultaneously dry and fascinating...
Oct 15, 2016 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing style here is dry and matter-of-fact but it's not as antique as you might think, and the historical material is interesting.

As a child JSM was home schooled by his brilliant writer, philosopher, economist, activist dad, who seems to have raised and educated him to be a sort of secret weapon of the Benthamite radical movement. By college age JSM had the equivalent of several PhDs-worth of knowledge. (He weirdly claimed that most people brought up similarly would have learned just as m
Jackson Cyril
The joy and pleasure I have derived from reading this book can hardly be over stated; indeed, in the last few weeks, I have spent many hours studying Mill's work; not because its content is so engrossing--on the contrary, many of Mill's 19th century intellectual quarrels and metaphysical topics expounded within this work are quite dull-- but because his ability to pen his thoughts, in such clear and precise language, is superior to any non-fiction prose I have hitherto had the pleasure to read.
Josh Meares
I started this book a while ago just for kicks. Then I put it down for a long time when I moved out of Texas. But when I picked it up, it really hooked me. The first part of the book was fascinating because it describes a real education. A young man, admittedly not very smart, but diligent, is taught how to think and how to learn. And it is amazing what he learned from being included in adult conversations and being expected to learn as an adult.

I enjoyed the second part of the book because it i
At last, I finished this short but rather dull book!

It contains some interesting parts including:
- John's Stuart Mills exceptional education
- the books that influenced him
- the influence of his wife and daughter on his work
- his key actions in Parliement

However, it was very difficult to keep reading due to the author's convoluted style. I guess this aspect is even more a repelling to a non-native reader.

I don't know if it was typical of his time but I have sometime the feeling that the author w
Anthony Zupancic
Read it to learn about his childhood education. It's fascinating. Note the lack of ANY female presence in his life until his late wife. Ask yourself, what is his motive for this biography? Better, what was his motive for "On Liberty"? Might it be his bizarre relationship? Her intellectual thoughts rubbing off? Lot going on with Mill.
Feb 11, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
If you prefer a view, I review good parts of the book here:

An interesting life was JS Mill. The last half of the book is about his politics and his publishing activities which were less interesting. I also liked the parts with the description of his wife being an intellectual equal to him, his praise for her, and also her influence on his writing. And subsequently, his daughter's. His childhood is also good to read about. I especially liked the descriptio
Feb 04, 2016 Fishface rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, biography
This was a remarkable portrait of total mental crash-and-burn, and what sounds like one of the worst, untreated cases of depression ever. An interesting read for anyone, it is also a dire cautionary tale about doing too much of any single thing. Even more painful to read than DARKNESS VISIBLE.
Justin Evans
Sep 29, 2016 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-etc
Much more interesting than I expected, and I'm much more interested in reading Mill's work than I was before I read this. Although he had some astonishing blind spots, he comes across as a humble, fascinating, radical man.
Jake Berlin
given the man and his work, this book should have been far more interesting than it was. so much of it was lists of the books he read and the things he wrote, whereas personal facts, character descriptions, and actions are few and far between.
Haythem Bastawy
Mill's Autobiography is very interesting from a historical perspective. It reveals his close relationships with a lot of other thinkers and writers. It is however more of an autobiography of his mental development without much insight into his personal life. It reads like an attempt by Mill to set himself up as a role model for young English gentlemen and junior thinkers; showing the way of learning and cooperating with other like-minded young people.Unlike Benjamin Franklin's autobiography in w ...more
M Pereira
This book was heavygoing (read: Dull) I thought initially that it was rather odd that Mill would talk about his political career at the end of the book, but what I was hoping for would not really be adequate or possible in an autobiography (an account of his death and final moments).

What I did enjoy was the beginning, this man's education was incredible and the influences he engaged with hardly humanise the man. What does humanise him is his relationship with Harriet Taylor and Taylor's daughte
Toni Bomboni
Aug 10, 2014 Toni Bomboni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspirativno, željeno da bude o javnom Johnu, on nam je mnogo više time rekao o svojoj privatnosti.
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John Stuart Mill, British philosopher, political economist, civil servant and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was an exponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham, although his conception of it was very different from Bentham's.
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“Those only are happy (I thought) who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way. The enjoyments of life (such was now my theory) are sufficient to make it a pleasant thing, when they are taken en passant, without being made a principal object. Once make them so, and they are immediately felt to be insufficient. They will not bear a scrutinizing examination. Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat, not happiness, but some end external to it, as the purpose of life. Let your self-consciousness, your scrutiny, your self-interrogation, exhaust themselves on that; and if otherwise fortunately circumstanced you will inhale happiness with the air you breathe, without dwelling on it or thinking about it, without either forestalling it in imagination, or putting it to flight by fatal questioning.” 48 likes
“Experience has taught me that those who give their time to the absorbing claims of what is called society, not having leisure to keep up a large acquaintance with the organs of opinion, remain much more ignorant of the general state either of the public mind, or of the active and instructed part of it, than a recluse who reads the newspapers need be. ” 8 likes
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