John Stuart Mill's 'On Liberty'

2980 Words Jan 13th, 2018 12 Pages
John Stuart Mill was born in Pentonville in 1806: it is to some extent ironic that Mill would become known as the author of On Liberty, when his birthplace would become better known as the site of Britain's largest modern prison. Mill's own life, however, is marked with contradictions. As Mill recounts in his Autobiography, his father had been part of the intellectual circle around Jeremy Bentham, the founding figure of Utilitarianism. In an effort to educate his young son according to the most useful precepts then available, John Stuart Mill as a child was essentially engineered by his father. This experiment in early child-training resulted in Mill being fluent in Latin and Greek by the age of eight, while at the same time being denied to a certain extent a "normal" childhood; as Mill writes in his Autobiography, "Of children's books, any more than of playthings, I had scarcely any"¦" In one sense the elder Mill's educational experiment in curtailing the normal freedoms of childhood for his son was a success the son grew up to be John Stuart Mill. But they also had the effect of causing Mill to have an almost complete nervous breakdown in the autumn of 1826, described in the Autobiography in terms of a philosophical dilemma: he describes the situation in Chapter V of his life-story, stating…
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