Who is John Stuart Mill? John Stuart Mill was born on May 20, 1806, in London, England. He was mostly known for his radical views. For example, he preached sexual equality, divorce, universal suffrage, free speech, and proportional representation. He had many works of writings such as Principles of Political Economy, On Liberty, The Subjections of Women, and the Three Essays of Religion: Nature, the Utility of Religion, and Theism. John Mill was the eldest son of James Mill who was a philosopher, economist and a senior official in the East India Company. James educated John when he was young.
His father taught him discipline, Greek at the age of three, history, languages, calculus, logic, political economy, geography, psychology, and rhetoric. At the age of twelve he was a competent logician and by the age of sixteen a well trained economist. (web) His father believed that teaching children while they were young would have an ever lasting effect on them. The purpose of this push of education at a young age is because James thought that teaching John would have the chance of becoming a prophet of the utilitarian gospel. John had to eventually take his learning from his father and teach his eight younger brother and sisters the same material.
Around the age of sixteen, John created a Utilitarian Society, which had the goal of bringing happiness to the greatest number of people, where he was one of a “small knot of young men” who practiced his father’s political and philosophical views. (web) At the age of twenty-one he suffered a mental breakdown, which resulted from severe strain from his earlier years. In his own autobiography, which was later published after his death, he wrote, that he was in a “dull state of nerves”; and that he had lost his charm. He said he had “no delight in virtue, or the general good, but also just as little in anything else.” After several months he realized that his emotions where not dried up and “the cloud gradually drew off.” In 1823 John took a clerkship position in the Examiner’s Office at the East India Company.
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Later he eventually headed that department. Harriet Taylor who was a close friend with John co-wrote several pieces of work with him. They met in 1830 and she was the mother of three children. Sharing this intimate relationship and not being able to pursue it because Harriet was married, led to the view of the legal right to divorce shared by both of them. They eventually married in 1851, when her husband died. During John’s lifetime one of his most controversial works was On Liberty.
It was an essay on the feelings he and his wife had, “that they lived in a society where bold and adventurous individuals were becoming all too rare.” (web) Many critics believed that Mill was way ahead of his time not just in human rights, but in other many other ways. The Subjection of Women, which was considered crazy during his time, today is considered just another feminist approach. Many would compare this essay too Marry Wollstonecraft’s book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. He writes in this essay that men should treat women just as they would treat another man. Another of his famous works is his writing of System of Logic. In this work he describes his new idea of “the logic of consistency.” (web) He thought that we could prove the conclusion we drew from evidence.
Principles of Political Economy, written in 1848, tried to show that economics was not just “dismal science.” He wanted to prove the difference between economics and what humans really valued in the economy. He eventually retired from the East India Company in 1858, which is when the British government took over. Elected Member of the Parliament for Westminster in 1865, he made several speeches on politics and women’s voting rights. He only served this position for one year.
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After his term he spent the rest of his life in Avignon, France, where he died in 1873. One of John Stuart Mills’s most famous pieces of writing is “The Subjection of Women.” In the two chapters that are accompanied in The Longman Anthology, you can only get a brief example of this work. In this work he states the men should give women the same quality as the treat another white man. The issue of slavery is stated to compare how men treat inferior sexes. “Did not the slave-owners of the Southern United States maintain the same doctrine, with all the fanaticism with which men cling to the theories that justify their passions and legitimate their personal interests?” (The Longman Anthology, pg. 522) He also stated that should he bring back the theory of Aristotle of which man has rule of slaves and women.
He contradicts himself to this nature. Later he stated, “But, it will be said, the rule of men over women differs from all these others in not being a rule of force: it is accepted voluntarily; women make no complaint, and are consenting parties to it.” (The Longman Anthology, pg. 523) Women from the beginning didn’t accept the fact that men were so called masters to there race. The only way they could express there feelings legally is threw their writings and publications. Parliamentary Suffrage was an issue that thousands of women brought before Parliament.
This issue was brought to the house in 1866 with John Mills the first member of the Parliament to advocate women’s suffrage. Stating later in Chapter One of The Subjection of Women, he gives an example that men don’t want women as slaves, but they want to feel connected to women. “The masters of women wanted more than simple obedience, and they turned the whole force of education to affect their purpose.” (The Longman Anthology, pg. 523) Women were brought up to look up to men and to know that they are inferior in both physical and mental aspects. “When we put together three things-first, the natural attraction between opposite sexes; secondly, the wife’s entire dependence on the husband, every privilege or pleasure she has being either his gift, or depending entirely on his will; and lastly, that the principal object of human pursuit, consideration, and all objects of social ambition, can in general be sought or obtained by her only through him-it would be a miracle if the object of being attractive to men had not become the polar star of feminine education and formation of character.” (The Longman Anthology, pg. 523) Another quote by Mill stating how much women are depended on men to live there lives.
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If men had ever been found in society without women, or women without men, or if there had been a society of men and women in which the women were not under the control of the men, something might have been positively known about the mental and moral differences which may be inherent in the nature of each.” (The Longman Anthology, pg. 524) Stating now that without women man can not exist and women can not exist without men. This corresponds to the earlier writing that women depend on men for survival. Is there a difference between man and woman? “Medical practitioners and physiologists have ascertained, to some extent, the differences in bodily constitution; and this is an important element to the psychologist: but hardly any medical practitioner is a psychologist.” (The Longman Anthology, pg.
524) Comparing the differences between man and women to see why women are so inferior to man would take a lot more than a hundred page books. Coming to a conclusion, with the available chapters from the book stated above, he states that man can not know woman enough throughout small interactions with one another. It takes time to know a woman and you can not figure out what they are truly about by just staying with one woman the rest of your life. But also a man with several partners is considered an immoral being. “But most men have not had the opportunity of studying in this way more than a single case: accordingly one can, to an almost laughable degree, infer what a man’s wife is like, from his opinions about women in general.” (The Longman Anthology, pg. 525) “When we further consider that to understand one woman is not necessarily to understand any other woman; that even if he could study many women of one rank, or of one country, he would not thereby understand women of other ranks or countries; and even if he did, they are still only the women of a single period of history; we may safely assert that the knowledge which they might be, is wretchedly imperfect and superficial, and always will be so, u until women themselves have told all that they have to tell.” (The Longman Anthology, pg.
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525) Proving the life long question of men will never understand women unless they become one themselves, still not understanding one unless they become every woman on earth. This is physically impossible, which can come to the conclusion that Mills is exaggerating the situation of women’s rights during his time. “The general opinion of men is supposed to be, that the natural vocation of a woman is that of a wife and mother.” (The Longman Anthology, pg. 526) “It is necessary to society that women should marry and produce children. They will not do so unless they are compelled. Therefore it is necessary to compel them.” (The Longman Anthology, pg.
526) These two quotes from John Mill, state that women are meant to be with men and to obey them. This is what he is trying to bring up to action of treating women with respect and the same as men treat other men. He concludes chapter one by stating, “But, in that case, all that has been done in the modern world to relate that chain on the minds of women, has been a mistake. They never should have been allowed to receive a literary education.
Women who read, much more women who write, are, in the existing constitution of things, a contradiction and a disturbing element: and it was wrong to bring women up with any acquirements but those of an odalisque, or of a domestic servant.” (The Longman Anthology, pg. 527) In conclusion, He was mostly known for his radical views. Principles of Political Economy, On Liberty, The Subjections of Women, and the Three Essays of Religion: Nature, the Utility of Religion, and Theism, where just some of the many works that he published to show the world that everything is not always perfect and intact. He showed that you could express your mind and that this is the new era of thinking. His writings on women’s rights to the economy where way ahead of his time.
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It is true that John Stuart Mill’s is not known well enough today as he should be.