This experience is reflected in the contribution made by Mill to utilitarian ethical theories. While adhering to the position that happiness is simply the sum total of pleasures, he made a distinction between higher and lower qualities of pleasure, regarding the higher as indefinitely more desirable than the lower. The criteria for making an exact classification of pleasures were, however, not fully and adequately worked out by Mill. Various branches of knowledge, in particular psychology and sociology, had not been developed sufficiently far for the purpose. On this, as on many other subjects, the work of Mill has been superseded, owing to fundamental differences in methods of approach even more than to the accumulation of additional data. Among influences of special far-reaching importance may be mentioned the evolutionary hypothesis, and what may be called, in contradistinction to the intellectual analytical psychology of Mill’s time, the scientific psychology of the present.

The most influential of all Mill’s writings has been “The Principles of Political Economy,” published in 1848. In writing this treatise, Mill had two purposes in view. In the first place, he wished to bring together the many improvements which had been made in the principles of the subject since the appearance of “The Wealth of Nations”〖H. C., x, and see lecture on Adam Smith in the course on Political Science.〗 in 1776 and, following the example of Adam Smith, to illustrate their practical applications. Here he was conspicuously successful. Many writers in recent years have set themselves the same task with no such measure of accomplishment. In the second place, he wished to relate economic principles and phenomena to his own social ideals and social philosophy. The character of these social ideals and the nature of his social philosophy are abundantly set forth in the “Autobiography,”〖H. C., xxv, 141-147.〗 where particular attention is given to the influence upon his mind of his wife and of Auguste Comte, the father of the science of sociology. It can hardly be said that Mill was fully successful in this effort. The purely economic part of the treatise and the social philosophy are not fused together and at times are positively contradictory. Nevertheless, the treatise gained in human interest from the effort thus made, and at all events the way was indicated toward a broader treatment of social and economic questions than had been customary among economists since the time of Adam Smith.

The personality revealed in the “Autobiography” is one that cannot fail to command respect and admiration. An ardent desire for social as well as individual progress is conspicuous both in the analysis of the growth of his own mind and in what is said about his own writings. Detailed consideration of the various reforms which he advocated in his writings is impossible within the narrow limits of a single lecture. In a general way it may be noted that Mill expected greater results from the removal of obstructions to freedom of thought and action〖See also the lecture on “The Idea of Liberty” in the series on Political Science.〗 and from education than in fact have been realized. It is now more clearly evident that the removal of restrictions is often no more than an indispensable preliminary to positive means of improvement and that opportunities thus provided are by no means certain to be made use of. After making every qualification, however, the liberal movement of the nineteenth century surely made possible a long step forward in human progress. In this movement the writings of John Stuart Mill were a potent factor.

All Directories