Stuart Mill’s Philosophy


John Stuart Mill Philosophy: Interest, Economics and Politics

Mill (John Stuart), along with Herbert Spencer,is  the greatest british philosopher in the nineteenth century.

“According to my appreciation of the genius of Mill, Alexander Bain said, he was primarily a logician, then a social or political philosopher”

General philosophy of Stuart Mill

Beyond Bentham and James Mill, the master which is directly connected to  John Stuart Mill is definitely David Hume, whose associationist theories are  behind Mill’s psychology. Especially in the Review of Hamilton‘s philosophy,Mill’s philosophy is purely empiricist, but the psychological empiricism, combined with a certain amount of physiology. There is an anachronism volunteer at the starting point of this doctrine. The major hypothesis of evolution (Evolution), the laws of inheritance and ancestral influences, these are all actions with distant and powerful, which the psychologist is now required to have and, even exceeding the horizon of simple psychology, led a total conception of things entirely new, as is the case for evolutionism of Herbert Spencer. In all these philosophical modern speculation, Stuart Mill hardly seems to have stopped, probably because he felt that, despite appearances, they did not reach the issue in its depth of knowledge and the be, and that this, far from helping to solve it, they presupposed the solution.

The reason for the conservative philosophy was certainly no ignorance or disdain for what’s new. It could not consist in the firm belief that it was above all individual experience is important, because all experience presupposes the more general and it conditions and determines any further developments.

As a result, the analysis of psychic phenomena, reducing the simple complex, the a priori in a process called contingent made in every conscience from the most distant of his training, this is the method inherited Hume Mill, which had himself received from Locke. And if attacked, preferably at the last and perhaps the greatest leaders of the Scottish school, to William Hamilton, that he recognized in it the master who personified the doctrine of intuitionism, not based, as in Kant, a critique of a priori conditions of knowledge, but an arbitrary assertion of reason dogmatic. Combat all forms of intuitionism, about all its pretensions, this is the constant goal of Stuart Mill, the goal is the unity of its controversial philosopher. A intuitionism ModeN oppose to the idea of ​​pre-existing data the theory of gradual growth, in short, to the revelation of history: that is, the philosophical, a process that will never be denied and success which he deploys the resources of infinite subtlety.

We speak not of immediate knowledge, awareness of external things directly, for example! Knowledge of this kind can only be mediated, and the testimony of consciousness, they seem so formal, open to interpretation. Mill drives and so far the horror of dogmatism in the school of Hamilton that he would prefer, rather than to subscribe, enter into the paradoxes of the most radical skepticism. His sympathy for the Pyrrhonism (Pyrrho) goes to justify the extreme claims of the school acataleptique and defend against the charge to make the contradiction.

It is quite possible, he argues, a person certainly of his doubt. Most people, I think, must have found a similar case on the particular facts which they were not completely certain, they were not quite certain to be uncertain. “(Chapter IX).

Skepticism, investigator, analytical, which is implemented mental activity the sharper is the eyes of the student of the Greeks, much preferable to a party torpor of a philosophy of belief.

But Mill is not a skeptic. The belief in the existence of the outside world, the reality of spirits, and even “a world hyperphysical to God,” not only he gave way, but he built on the only basis which, in its philosophy, provides the strength, the basis of associations. The combination – an indissoluble association – which leads us irresistibly to feel simple, transient, to the notion of sensations and possibilities perdurable last of these possibilities to separate the notion of a permanent general of all the possibilities of sensations . And this analysis we discover the origin of our ideas of material substance and the physical world.

Asks me if I believe it to matter, I will ask my turn if one accepts my definition. If so, I believe in matter, and the entire Berkeley school like me […] The faith of humanity in the real existence of visible and tangible objects, it is faith in the reality and the permanence of the potential visual and tactile sensations, regardless of any actual sensation. ”

According to Mill, such is the conviction of both naive and common sense, and the argumentum baculinum, says he has no other meaning. Finally, the same analysis, rather than focus on the objective side of our sensations, applies only in the inner side and subjective, we also will design the permanent possibilities of these states or states like mine to mine, but perceived by others than by me, and so will be obtained the notion of spiritual substance that I am and that spiritual substances are other humans.

The belief that my mind exists, even though it does not smell, he does not think that he is unaware of its existence, is reduced to the belief in a permanent possibility of these states.

We can not, on the occasion of the reduction famous, engage in discussion about whether it is an improvement or a decline instead against Hume’s analysis. It may be noted, however, that if Stuart Mill offers us a cosmic synthesis firmer and more comprehensive, more removed from the subjectivism of Hume, so close to the skepticism, it has been asking the very fact that the association two concepts of a new order, whose birth has some mystery here which may conceal a secret loan to the doctrines of pure reason: the concept of possibility and of permanence.

Logic by Stuart Mill

The work logic of John Stuart Mill is justly famous. It is one of the most vigorous efforts were made to change the character, purpose and object of a science that we had, since Aristotle, accustomed to regard as concerning only the shape of knowledge and as indifferent to his material. No one better than our philosopher was living in to complete such an effort: his father and his master, James Mill, had not it not, from childhood, trained in scholastic exercises of the discussion the most agile, and Analytics of Aristotle had they not been one of the favorite books of his austere youth? Dedicated logic and so he knew the secrets and detour weaknesses as him had not escaped. Of all the faults that seemed to threaten the sterility, it was a fundamental, hence all other derivatives, we mean the prejudice accredited by theorists that it regulates only the consequence, ie, d . the agreement of our ideas, and pays no attention to the truth.

Precisely what Mill wanted to do was the substitution of truth to the result, as the object of logic, in other words, this science, with it, become “the theory of evidence.” We should, as a new point of view, summarize what was his doctrine of names and prepositions. We should especially trace the transformation he has done to the theory of the syllogism. This reasoning, which has always passed for the precision tool of deductive logic, was considered a process of inclusion is to enclose specific terms in other more general terms themselves understood in universal terms, and the art to accomplish these interlocking successive boiled down, ultimately, the art of syllogiser. The syllogism, according to Mill, is pursuing a different goal, which is not to nest one inside the other classes of concepts, but to bring groups of properties and characters. Under these conditions, this operation will become more than a frivolous game, it will be an instrument of knowledge. Induction, ie experience in this area will be provided.


For her, the inductions will be established once and for all. One call to the experience may be sufficient, and the result can be saved as a general proposition, which is committed to memory or paper which is then no longer than syllogiser

Inductive generalization operations, that what is true in any deduction.

Therefore, it is clear that induction is not only understood, unlike the classical traditions, in science the logician, but that it may form the central division. Always anxious to avoid the assumptions that provide some semblance metaphysical Stuart Mill refuses to justify the act by induction a priori principles, preferring the risk of seeming to make a circle, instead of using a given transcendent . Causality to which he belongs is inductive operation itself as the result of specific induction, spontaneous, relentlessly accumulated experience that has never wavered: the experience by which history has determined invariable always and everywhere preceded the phenomena, objects of our observation. These inductions were spontaneous: the maxim summarizes the causal inferences justify the future, so that the association is that, ultimately, the logical step that one might have thought beyond the bounds of infinity of the association. Induce, as inferred, it is still a way to move from particular to particular, despite the appearance of universality or point of arrival or at the start, only road that leads only because it neglects the deserts of the a priori to cross the fertile field of observation and facts.

A particularly serious doubt weighs up a science course in this way, and the certainty that the guarantees will be considered precarious, when one considers that Mill refuses to extend to the infinite universe generalizations of an experiment that took limited theater world. But Mill is not moved to a risk as remote, and has taught at the school of Comte (positivism) to curb the ambitions of the human mind, lucky with a localized and science, as Bacon advised, to contain the growth of human understanding, reason with less need for wings of lead.

Ethics by Stuart Mill

Before outlining the actual legal part of the philosophy of Mill, we must mention one of his most original designs and the most suggestive, which forms a link between his psychology and logic on the one hand, and ethics, on the other. But the design itself can not be understood unless we determine the attitude observed by our author with regard to the problem of freedom. The thesis of free will is firmly opposed by him, and the refutation that in fact it certainly raises the song the most complete its review of Hamilton’s philosophy. Nevertheless Mill was forbidden to profess a necessitarianism simple bending under a fatality or external, or logical, the human will. Both the word itself need it seems a misnomer. His determinism is of such nature between the determinants of our actions reflected our desires, our ideas and volitions are at the forefront. Our character we have not imposed from without, for then reign in the human who knows what psychological fatalism. We have a part in shaping our character and this precisely because of our desire to shape: an element of truth is the honor of the theorists of free will be highlighted.

That they are satisfied with such a tribute and to accept as an equivalent of freedom within this chain of determinism, that’s what we do not have to vouch. At least Stuart Mill Should this theory to make possible a special science which remains to be the method and the results of moral and social surely can not be overrated; to call it, named it himself forged the science of ethology, or the formation of character.

An ingenious and penetrating thinker could not fail in its moral, to shine its know-how (or rather his ability to think). We will not dwell much, however, to summarize. This is in spite of the ingenuity and finesse that he could bring real property or renewal to a doctrine which, since ancient times, was of Epicurus all his perfection and even in England, the analysis of Hobbes, Hume, Bentham was able to modernize, but not really overhaul. This doctrine, in his book Utilitarianism (Utilitarianism) has exhibited extensively, is that, starting from individual selfishness, goes from self-love to the love of others and place, in meeting of that love, the ultimate end of morality. On this new ground again, it intuitionism that fight and it is a theory of acquisition that fits. It is enough, once again, to use the influence of the association to make sense of the process, hedonism itself, leads to altruism. Also with him consciousness is not she, as she had been with Bentham, an empty word. Without naming, needless to say, nothing resembling an innate faculty, the word conscience, however denominated something natural, that the association so strongly consolidated in the souls of disinterested ideas with the ideas that the reasons for eudemonistic act for the good of others end up spontaneously and substitute themselves for reasons to obey our narrow interests. Thus gradually the general happiness will appear as the happiness of each and all. In this way morality have its purpose, under its ideal. Finally, the association will also be able to account for the fact of the obligation. This will be the association, through the active intervention of a legislator, will base a theory of civil duty, justice and law.

Stuart Mill’s Social sciences and sociology

The political and social philosophy of John Stuart Mill is independent of all schools and it is impossible to understand in one of the classifications used among the parties. In books such as the Government representative and Freedom, we know solved individualistic, concerned with avoiding the interference of power much of the personal activity of citizens, as this share once abandoned, any initiative would be at risk, stronger the springs of human energy would find themselves relaxed. In all of us so it is an inviolable asylum to which the public should stop respectful. Does this mean that this asylum is infinitely extended and that the role of public action will be reduced to a minimum of control, the degree of intervention just enough so that many individuals observe the mutual rights without which s’ collapse any civilian organization? Our philosopher deems so little that it imposes on the state duties of interference. Yes, Mill recognized as legitimate for the government’s claim

Impose a legal obligation for parents to give their children a basic education

He is in favor of legislative action regarding child labor, in order to prevent the excesses of this work. High culture, exploration companies and, in general, works long range, so useful to the social body, but do not put just enough private enterprise: it is also the political power to promote and to support them. It has more than once protested in front of this part of the political program of Mill as having an inconsistency. But this inconsistency, why did not make the same criticism as the oracle of the Liberals, Adam Smith, who professed a similar requirement with respect to the state? And does it not a sign that the inconsistency complained of is more apparent than real?

Not least is the original economic position held by Mill. His Principles of Political Economy were among his writing one of those who obtained the most lasting success, in a spirit compounds severely scientific, filled with facts and observations, it is a model of its kind. At the same time singularly bold views are pierced. It was, for example, declared approval of the thesis Malthusian (Malthus, New maltusianisme), whereby the evil to be avoided is for the states, not the decline in births, but to some fool increasing their number. It was also openly displayed a sympathy for the Communist propaganda which he had in France, studying closely the development sympathy he grew up to this point to argue that the difficulties opposed to Communism “does weigh in balance a speck of dust, “if we put the other side all the suffering and injustices that society so desperately saddened. It was still a committed membership and activist for the cause of social and political recovery of the woman. At this point only because it brings a competition theory. He was on the political platforms, the very active, very persistent and very happy champion.

It does remain to be done around this philosophy, which left outside of it none of the provinces of thought and human activity, to note what was his attitude toward theology. His criticism could hardly be more different dogmas save made by religious metaphysics she had done with other claims of intuitionistic thought. It knows that the criticism that human reason. However, in addition to reason and parallel to the right, there is another possibility that less severe and does not cover a narrow discipline, a faculty that rises above the observation and provides extensive career in range of possibilities: the imagination that dream, beautifies, poetizes. It seems that Stuart Mill would be handed over to the right of free care to address some of the ruins that analytical reason was sown. The imagination can restore the religious sentiment in its aspirations and hopes. Religion of humanity, of religion itself hypernature, ie the divine, that apparently it, the term unexpected depths to which the empiricist nineteenth, century has produced.


Cite this article as: Tim, "Stuart Mill’s Philosophy, May 10, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, May 10, 2012,

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