Mill James

Mill James

Mill, James (1773-1836), British historian and philosopher. He was educated at Montrose Academy and the University of Edinburgh, where he distinguished himself as a Greek scholar. He became a licensed preacher in 1798, but preferred to teach and study philosophy. He moved to London in 1802, became acquainted with Bentham, adopted his views and became a major exponent of them. His first contribution to economics was a pamphlet on the corn trade written in 1804, in which he argued against subsidy on the export of corn. But his major contribution lies in his Elements of Political Economy (1821), intended mainly as a on economics.

Mill, John Stuart (1806-73), English philosopher and economist. He received a remarkable education from his father, James Mill, a friend of Ricardo and Bentham, and one of the leading intellectuals of the early nineteenth century. According to his Autobiography, the young Mill began to learn Greek before he could remember (he was told it was around the age of three). At eight years he began to study Latin and was entrusted with the task of teaching it to his younger brothers and sisters. Between eight and twelve he mastered geometry, algebra and the differential calculus before going on to logic. At fourteen he was familiar with all that had been written in political economy. The difficulties of contact with normally educated people were alleviated by his friendship with Mrs Harriet Taylor, whom he later mauled.

Mill served with the East India Company until 1858 when the Company lost its charter. He was a Member of Parliament from 1865 to 1868, but after the death of his wife (who had collaborated with him in several of his works) he retired from active life and spent his remaining years in Avignon.

His first work was published in 1822, and for the rest of his life he was a prolific writer on a wide range of subjects. System of Logic appeared in 1843, and immediately established his fame. Mill claimed that in economics he was nothing more than a pure 'Ricardian', but his main work, Principles of Political Economy (1848), contains much original thought. It was a comprehensive survey of economic science as it was known in his day, and it soon became the standard work on the subject. His Essays on Some Unsettled Questions in Political Economy, written in 1829 (when he was twenty-three) and published in 1844, would seem, however, to contain his major contributions to economic analysis.

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Since then his writings have in turn been increasingly reinterpreted as a special case both by some followers and by some economists who had not wholly accepted his writings. The content of economics is in a state of change, and this site is therefore not a final statement of economic doctrine.

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