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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  693 ratings  ·  77 reviews
One of the greatest prodigies of his era, John Stuart Mill (1806-73) was studying arithmetic and Greek by the age of three, as part of an astonishingly intense education at his father's hand. Intellectually brilliant, fearless and profound, he became a leading Victorian liberal thinker, whose works - including On Liberty, Utilitarianism, The Subjection of Women and this au ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 23rd 1989 by Penguin Classics (first published 1873)
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3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  693 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Foad Ansari
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
اوایل کتاب که در مورد تربیت و نحوه آموزش پدرش بود جالب بود ولی کم کم کسل کننده شد
در حد 2 یا 3 بود که به نظرم به 2 نزدیکتر است
در بلاگم در مورد این کتاب و سودگرای بنتام واقتصاد سیاسی 2 پست نوشتم
خوندن این کتاب رو توصیه نمی کنم
Aaron Arnold
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The autobiography is such an ancient genre, St. Augustine having written his Confessions in 400 AD, that its conventions were already pretty fixed by the time that Mill finally completed his shortly before his 1873 death. His contribution to the genre is right in line with what we expect: an overview of his life, his work, his relationship (note the singular), and his likely legacy, balancing between honest modesty and fair self-regard. It's notable not just merely because of who he was - pionee ...more
Michael Siliski
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable, fairly short read about the education of the most important English-speaking philosopher of the 19th century. Tells the story of how under his father's direction he began learning Greek at age 3, Latin at 8, was responsible for the education of his 8 siblings, and had consumed most of the classical canon by 12. He begins productive work as a philosopher and political economist, then this education runs up against a mental breakdown and loss of purpose in his early 20s, finally reso ...more
Jaakko Ojala
Apr 22, 2013 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
Angie Boyter
Mar 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
OMG! If you want to read John Stuart Mill, read On Liberty, not this book! I knew he had a very unusual life, like learning Greek and math at the age of 3, so I thought his autobiography would be interesting. Actually I guess it takes real talent to make such an interesting life so boring....
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, philosophy
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
Eman salem
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
جيد جداً الكتاب
مِل شخص عملي
وسيرته الذاتية عبارة عن عرض للحياة الاقتصادية والسياسية والفكرية للمجتمع في الفترة اللي عاشها
تحدث عن تأثير والده الكبير وتحفيزة له للتعلم والدراسة وايضاً بنثام والمدرسة النفعية
وعرض تأثير الصحافة الحرة على تغيير وتوعية الرأي العام بالحقوق والنفقات الحكومية وترشيدها
تحدث عن اممانية الاصلاح عبر خلق الوعي عند الشعب وبالتالي الضغط على الحكومة
شيء جميل جداً ومحفز، في الوقت الحالي الانترنت عنده امكانيات الصحافة الحرة
ومرة في كلام مع وحدة من بتوع " أهم شي الأمن والأمان " قل
Jun 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
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!
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Somehow simultaneously dry and fascinating...
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This account, John Stuart Mill's Autobiography, made a strong impression on me, though at some times stronger than others insofar as at times it is about parliamentary matters of over a century ago, and I'd certainly recommend the first chapters, about his education as a child prodigy, and the fifth chapter, which is about his mental breakdown, to all readers; it was, however, sometimes difficult to read, though not more so than other books of this esteemed era, so I found it very pleasurable, t ...more
Rob Rogers
Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I found this book interesting for two reasons: the account of his extraordinary early education and the story of his "dark night of the soul" in early adulthood.

What Mill himself seems to find interesting -- his relationships with other philosophers of political economy and the Scottish enlightenment, his role in politics and his frequent occupations editing some literary review or other -- strike me as slow going. What I find fascinating, however, are all the elements absent from his book: any
John Jr.
Apr 22, 2012 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
Grig O'
Jan 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
JS Mill gives an interesting if not comprehensive picture of his life and relationships with the 2 most important people, his father and his wife. Unpleasant details are glossed over, such as his dad's colonialism or how he stole his wife from her first husband. Stuff like this shows the limits of JSM's good intentions and reasoning, which he seems to place behind everything in his story.

The first part of the book, detailing his unusual upbringing, is by far the most appealing. Good general poin
David Redden
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 04, 2007 added it
Shelves: own, philosophy
About 20% of this is extremely fascinating. The rest is really hard to like, even if you really like Mill.
May 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book has solidified my admiration for John Stuart Mill. Someone needs to make a movie about his life.
Jan 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in education and genius.
Luke Meehan
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully well-paced and accessible autobiography that includes quick and clear summations of some of Mill's best ideas.
Recommended reading for economists!
Nov 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book more than I did, so in only rating it 3 stars, I’m trying to exhibit the type of intellectual honesty that I think would engender Mill’s respect.

I’m a big fan of Mill’s philosophy, ideas and ideals but, alas, Mill the man isn’t so interesting. He delivers the account of his life factually and with many details, but so many of the references he makes to books, people and the political issues of his time were obscure to me or just uninteresting.

I do not fault Mill for t
Andrii Zakharov
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating (if regrettably short, mainly due to the humbleness of the author) insight into the mental and physical life of one of the most influential intellectuals of the 19th century.
Having gone through an unparalleled, both in rigor and coldness, private education by his father (himself an eminent public figure), Mill developed from a very young age a penetrating analytical mind, which he unhesitatingly applied throughout his life to all questions of societal importance. The development o
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: completed
Autobiography- John Stuart Mill - 20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873 son of James Mill is pleasant book to read. Apart from well known history of liberalism, he contributed widely to social theory, political theory and political economy, what has charmed me are the following facts- 1. his father did not send him to school for formal education but educated him at home. Education continued while walking near the residence and in parks. Philosophy was one subject of his education. J S Mill was given the resp ...more
CJ Spear
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
John Stuart Mill's account of his own life should be renamed 'Chronological Ramblings.' Having read his own autobiography, I still know very little about his life. Mill covers in a fair amount of detail his education, but nothing else of his youth. He briefly dwells on a sort of 'mental crisis' that he experienced in his mid-twenties. The vast majority of this book however is Mill's opinions on his contemporaries' work, his own work, and the political issues of his day. Having no knowledge of an ...more
Robert B
May 11, 2017 rated it liked it
The autobiography of 19th century England’s great utilitarian philosopher is most interesting for Mill’s discussion of:

* The methods by which he was educated by his father (learning Greek at age 3, Latin at age 8) and his insistence that it was the methods and not his own native talents that were responsible for his precocity
* His work methods, for example, the fact that he would write the first draft of a work and then totally start over an write a second draft
* The depression that Mill suffere
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mill was a fantastic person. Though his writing was akin to his personality, being very straight forward, it's quite an enjoyable read. Many interesting discussions on his early education, mental crisis, relationship with his peers and with his wife, and his time as a politician. One interesting fact being that his essay On Liberty was written twice (as most of his works were), but also scrupulously looked over by himself and his wife for a few years afterwards as well. Quite a dedicated and ama ...more
Apr 27, 2018 rated it liked it
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Matt Howell
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book reveals the amazing capacity of the human mind to learn, while revealing our limitations in our ability to endure rigor and still flourish emotionally.
J.S. Mill stands as one of the clearest writers and most piercing intellects of the modern age, and was trained from birth to be so. Yet this exacted a tremendous psychological toll from him.
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John Stuart Mill, English 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.” 67 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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