James Mill(1773-1836) Scottish historian, economist, and philosopher

James Mill(1773-1836) was a Scottish historian, economist, and philosopher. The son of a shoemaker, Mill was born near Forfar. Educated for the ministry, he came to London in 1802 and took up journalism. He translated, wrote reviews, and edited two journals. In 1805, he married Harriet Burrow, and they later had nine children. His first son, John Stuart Mill, was born in 1806. He wrote History of British India (1817) which was the first full historical treatment of the British conquest of India. It secured a well-paid post with the East India Company. Here Mill harshly criticized the British administration of India, and during his 17 years with the India House, he helped completely reform the system of government in the colony.

Mill became friendly with Jeremy Bentham and grew to be a leading member of the ‘philosophical radicals’, the liberal and a predominantly utilitarian group that included the jurist John Austin, the historian George Grote, and the economist David Ricardo (1772–1823) whose views in philosophy and political economy he adopted. He was a regular contributor (1806–18) to the Anti-Jacobin Review, the British Review, the Eclectic Review, and the Edinburgh Review (1808–13). Mill published Elements of Political Economy in 1821, Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind in 1829, and Fragment on Mackintosh in 1835. In the Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind, David Hartley’s theory of association provides a psychological basis for Bentham’s utilitarianism: associations may become inseparable, transforming what had merely been means into ends sought on their account, thus explaining the altruism of a self-seeking individual. The Fragment on Mackintosh responds to the attack on utilitarianism in James Mackintosh’s Dissertation on the Progress of Ethical Philosophy. Mill helped to found and contributed to the Westminster Review. His other important works are Essays on Government, Jurisprudence, Liberty of the Press, Education, and Prisons and Prison Discipline, “Whether Political Economy is Useful”, 1836, The Principles of Toleration, 1837. His son John Stuart Mill’s The Autobiography (1873) gives a portrait of his austere personality.

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