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Durham, J. (1963). The Influence of John Stuart Mill's Mental Crisis on His Thoughts. Am. Imago, 20(4):369-384.

(1963). American Imago, 20(4):369-384

The Influence of John Stuart Mill's Mental Crisis on His Thoughts

John Durham

It has always seemed to me that the great question offered by John Stuart Mill's progression as a philosopher is: what caused the man who felt in the early 1820's that Jeremy Bentham's Utilitarianism offered a basis for the unification of his own personality to conclude, in 1838, that Bentham had a severely limited conception of the agencies by which the human mind is molded and by which human conduct is influenced? I believe that the explanation for that change lies in the mental crisis which occurred in Mill's life in 1826, and that this crisis may be attributed not only to the nature of Mill's early education but also to his personal relations with his father.

The plan for Mill's education was formed by his father, James Mill, and Jeremy Bentham in 1808-1809. The two men sought a successor to continue their Utilitarian propaganda; since Bentham had no son, John Stuart Mill was the logical choice. The plan, somehow, has overtones of cruelty, noticed by contemporaries and later critics. In 1874, a reviewer of the Autobiography was of the opinion that the elder Mill undertook an experiment with his son to satisfy his own vanity.

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