The New International Encyclopædia/Mill, James

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The New International Encyclopædia
Mill, James
Edition of 1905. See also James Mill on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

MILL, James (1773-1836). A British economist and philosopher. He was the son of a shoemaker, born near Montrose, Scotland, April 6, 1773. He studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he distingtiished himself in Greek and in moral and metaphysical philosophy. He was licensed to preach in 1798; but instead of following this career, he went to London in 1802, as tutor to Sir John Stuart's children, and there settled as a literary man. He became editor of the Literary Journal and wrote for various periodicals. Not long after he settled in London he made the acquaintance of Jeremy Bentham, who influenced him greatly in his views. In 1806 he commenced his History of British India, which he carried on along with other literary work, and published in the winter of 1817-18. This important work, though containing an attack upon the administration of the East India Company, secured for him in 1819 the post of assistant examiner of Indian correspondence. Before his death he was appointed head of the examiner's office, where he had the control of all the departments of Indian administration — political, judicial, and financial — managed by the secret committee of the court of directors. He contributed many important articles to the Encyclopædia Britannica. These essays were printed in a separate form, and became widely known. In 1821-22 he published his Elements of Political Economy, a work prepared primarily with a view to the education of his eldest son, John Stuart Mill. In 1829 his magnum opus, the Analysis of the Human Mind, appeared. The work is almost the Bible of associationism, and deserves to be classed among the great English philosophical productions. He attempted to simplify associationism by recognizing only one principle at work, that which was later called association by contiguity. (See Association of Ideas.) This principle can so fuse various ideas and feelings that a result may be produced entirely different from the original element. This has been called ‘mental chemistry.’ Mill made great use of mental chemistry in support of the doctrine that morality is based on utility. (See Utilitarianism.) In this way he furnished a psychological basis for Bentham's ethical and legislative reforms. He took great interest in political questions and was a powerful advocate of an extended suffrage. Much of his influence was due to his strong personality and great conversational powers. In later life he entirely broke away from his early religious views and brought up his son John Stuart in utter religious indifference. He took a leading part in the founding of University College, London. He died at Kensington, June 23, 1836. See Autobiography of J. S. Mill (London, 1873); Bain, James Mill: A Biography (London, 1882); Bower, James Mill and Hartley (ib., 1881). All of these works are quite popular in character.