James Mill (1773-1836)

Scottish born father of John Stuart Mill, who was a renowned historian, economist, and philosopher, as well as an adherent of utilitarianism and a proponent of imperialism. Believing that the mind of a child is a blank slate that requires a strict regimen to be properly trained and educated, he raised John in isolation from other boys and saw to it that John was learning Greek by the age of three and had mastered Latin by the age of eight. Under his James’s austere eye, the younger Mill’s day was filled with intellectual work. John was allowed only one hour of recreation per day, which consisted of a walk with his father—who used the opportunity to conduct oral exams. Following the regime set out by James, by the age of fourteen John was deeply read in history, logic, mathematics, and economic theory. At fifteen, John began studying with his father’s close friend, English philosopher Jeremy Bentham,

Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832)

English philosopher and founder of modern utilitarianism, he was also a social reformer whose views on law, religion, economics, and ethics had strong influence in Britain and beyond during his lifetime and beyond. James Mill was a student, a secretary, and later a close friend of Bentham. James Mill’s son, John Stuart Mill, also study under Bentham starting at the age of fifteen. Although John Stuart Mill used Bentham’s beliefs on utilitarianism as his starting point, the two differed on several important points, including Mill’s criticism of Bentham for not considering conscious to be a human motive. 

Popular pages: Utilitarianism