J. S. Mill: The Evolution of a Genius

J. S. Mill: The Evolution of a Genius

J. S. Mill: The Evolution of a Genius

J. S. Mill: The Evolution of a Genius

Excerpt

Many contemporary readers find it difficult to believe that J. S. Mill was once a beloved and an extraordinarily influential author. Outside the academic community, Mill has little immediately identifiable importance in modern political, economic, and philosophical thought. He has retained almost no authority or prestige as a stylist. Among all his books, only On Liberty and the Autobiography continue to attract anything like a wide audience. Even On Liberty's audience is not general: the essay is read, for the most part, by scholars and by students. Among all Mill's writings, only the Autobiography continues to command considerable popular interest. It appears that modern readers feel much more engaged by Mill's life than by his literature. We are drawn, it seems, far more to Mill's personal history than to his philosophies, attitudes, and stylistics.

Part of the continuing interest in Mill's life has surely to do with his life's grotesqueness. Mill's parents were peculiar people. His education was radically unusual. His early life was remarkably secluded, confined, and pressured. His sufferings were extreme -- so extreme . . .

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