John Stuart Mill
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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  347 ratings  ·  31 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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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...more
Jaakko Ojala
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
Erez Davidi
This book should have been called The Education of John Stuart Mill. Mill's autobiography is mostly about Mill's education which made him one of the greatest thinkers of the nineteenth century. Mill also discuses, in length, the influences he was subjected to during the years. I found the book to be interesting and rather revealing. Mill was educated almost completely by his dad. Just to give an example of how demanding his dad was, Mill started learning classic Greek by the age of three. By aro...more
David Redden
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 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
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
A wonderfully well-paced and accessible autobiography that includes quick and clear summations of some of Mill's best ideas.
Recommended reading for economists!
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!
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.
John E. Branch Jr.
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...more
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...more
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...more
This was an assignment read, but in the end it was probably the best thing I'd read all semester. Dry, Victorian-ish, yet powerfully optimistic about mankind. Despite his rather depressing upbringing, JSM had a wit and razor mind that leads me to believe he would be a wonderful dinner guest.

Plus the decades long love affair, which he barely mentions, is titillating in the extreme. Perhaps not the first feminist, but a true one nonetheless.
This is first and foremost an intellectual autobiography, as I suppose only Mill himself could have produced.
Lex Bijlsma
Autobiografie van een in veel opzichten interessante figuur: zijn zeer ongebruikelijke opvoeding en de wijze waarop hij zich intellectueel geleidelijk heeft losgemaakt van de invloed van zijn vader vormen thema's die stof tot nadenken geven. Het gewrongen proza en de minutieuze verdediging van elk ooit geschreven artikel maken het lezen hiervan echter zoiets als fietsen in nat zand.
Ke Huang
Rather than a biography, the work seemed like an extended CV of his qualifications. While Mill had an impressive life, I didn't feel that the piece was ever intimate enough.

Even when he talks about his deceased wife, it is under the light of how she helped him advance his career. Perhaps that's the genre of his time.
Such an unexpectedly great book. I didn't think much about an autobiography, but I found so many of Mill's ideas and thoughts very resonating, and connected with him on multiple points. His views on religion are also surprisingly modern. And I found his personal struggle with analytic thought and emotions quite interesting.
not a big fan of utilitarianism, but I am now a big fan of Mill -- social justice is not a boogeyman dreamed up by liberals to haunt Glenn Beck -- it may be the only thing to save capitalism from devouring its own
Matt Hudgens-Haney
I love to read biographies and, whenever possible, autobiographies of great thinkers and achievers. I was, however, quite disappointed by this book. Although there are a few interesting bits, overall it was very boring.
I've finally found someone who grew up like I did. Only replace father with mother. So I don't need to write an autobiography now. Just copy his :) Would we have been friends? Probably not terribly good ones.
Jan 07, 2009 Marc is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
So far I'm tempted to just skip the later autobiography and read all the books he mentions that he read and loved as a kid.
This book is a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in education and genius.
ECON 314: John Stuart Mill: Political Economy and Social Philosophy
Somehow simultaneously dry and fascinating...
Jun 27, 2010 Eric is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Slow to start. Hopefully it improves.
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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.
More about John Stuart Mill...
On Liberty Utilitarianism On Liberty and Other Essays The Subjection of Women On Liberty and Utilitarianism

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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.” 26 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. ” 6 likes
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