In this powerful work, John Stuart Mill sets forth representative government as the most sensible compromise between unreflective rule by the masses and the self-indulgence of the few. The reader of this volume senses that Mill is being pulled in opposing directions: steadfastly committed to majority rule with minority rights while at the same time being just enough of an aristocrat to believe that the masses need exemplars to emulate.
JOHN STUART MILL was born in London on May 20, 1806, the son of noted Scottish economist and philosopher James Mill, who held an influential post in the powerful East India Company. Mill's natural talent and physical stamina were put to the test at a very young age when he undertook a highly structured and individual-ized upbringing orchestrated by his father, who believed that the mind was a passive receptacle for human experience. His educa-tion and training were so intense that he was reading Greek at the age of three and doing independent writing at six. Mill's education broadened considerably after 1823 when he entered the East India Company to commence his life's career as his father had done before him. He traveled, became politically involved, and in so doing moved away from the narrower sectar-ian attitudes in which he had been raised. His ideas and imagina-tion were ignited by the views of such diverse personalities as Wordsworth, Saint-Simon, Coleridge, Comte, and de Tocqueville.
During his life, Mill wrote many influential works: System of Logic (1843); Principles of Political Economy (1848); On Liberty (1859); The Subjection of Women (1861); Utilitarianism (1863); Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy (1865); and Autobiography (1873).
As a defender of individual freedom and human rights, John Stuart Mill lives on as a nineteenth-century champion of social reform. He died on May 7, 1873.