Autobiography (Penguin Classics)
John Stuart Mill
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One of the greatest prodigies of his era, John Stuart Mill (1806-73) was studying arithmetic and Greek by the age of three, as part of an astonishingly intense education at his father's hand. Intellectually brilliant, fearless and profound, he became a leading Victorian liberal thinker, whose works - including On Liberty, Utilitarianism, The Subjection of Women and this Autobiography - are among the crowning achievements of the age. Here he describes the pressures placed on him by his childhood, the mental breakdown he suffered as a young man, his struggle to understand a world of feelings and emotions far removed from his father's strict didacticism, and the later development of his own radical beliefs. A moving account of an extraordinary life, this great autobiography reveals a man of deep integrity, constantly searching for truth.
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natural to boyhood, if I had not, as I think, observed that the keen enjoyment of this brilliant specimen of narrative and versification is not so universal with boys, as I should have expected both a priori and from my individual experience. Soon after this time I commenced Euclid, and somewhat later, algebra, still under my father’s tuition. From my eighth to my twelfth year the Latin books which I remember reading were, the Bucolics of Virgil, and the first six books of the Aeneid; all Horace
the cognate objects which are successively parted off from it – all this, as an education for precise thinking, is inestimable, and all this, even at that age, took such hold of me that it became part of my own mind. I have felt ever since that the title of Platonist belongs by far better right to those who have been nourished in, and have endeavoured to practise Plato’s mode of investigation, than to those who are distinguished only by the adoption of certain dogmatical conclusions, drawn mostly
any of us adopted implicitly all my father’s opinions. For example, although his Essay on Government was regarded probably by all of us as a masterpiece of political wisdom, our adhesion by no means extended to the paragraph of it, in which he maintains that women may consistently with good government, be excluded from the suffrage, because their interest is the same with that of men. From this doctrine, I, and all those who formed my chosen associates, most positively dissented. It is due to my
the direction given to the associations. I make as humble an estimate as anybody of what either an analysis of logical processes, or any possible canons of evidence, can do by themselves, towards guiding or rectifying the operations of the understanding. Combined with other requisites, I certainly do think them of great use; but whatever may be the practical value of a true philosophy of these matters, it is hardly possible to exaggerate the mischiefs of a false one. The notion that truths
opinion should impose on mankind an oppressive yoke of uniformity in opinion and practice, might easily have appeared chimerical to those who looked more at present facts than at tendencies; for the gradual revolution that is taking place in society and institutions has thus far been decidedly favourable to the development of new opinions, and has procured for them a much more unprejudiced hearing than they previously met with. But this is a feature belonging to periods of transition, when old