John Stuart Mill; His Life and Works eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 72 pages of information about John Stuart Mill; His Life and Works.
that person has a religion; and though every one naturally prefers his own religion to any other, all must admit, that if the object of his attachment, and of this feeling of duty, is the aggregate of our fellow-creatures, this religion of the infidel cannot in honesty and conscience be called an intrinsically bad one.  Many indeed may be unable to believe that this object is capable of gathering round it feelings sufficiently strong; but this is exactly the point on which a doubt can hardly remain in an intelligent reader of M. Comte:  and we join with him in contemning, as equally irrational and mean, the conception of human nature as incapable of giving its love, and devoting its existence, to any object which cannot afford in exchange an eternity of personal enjoyment.”  Never has the libel of humanity involved in the current theology been more forcibly pointed out, with its constant appeal to low motives of personal gain, or still lower motives of personal fear.  Never has the religious sentiment which must take the place of the present awe of the unknown been more clearly indicated.  It is this noble sentiment which shines out from every page of Mr. Mill’s writings and all his relations to his fellow-creatures:  the very birds about his dwelling seemed to recognize it.  It is this noble sentiment which infuses a soul of life into his teachings, and the enunciation and acting-out of which constitute him, not only the great philosopher, but also the great prophet of our time.




The two chief characteristics of Mr. Mill’s mind are conspicuous in the field of morals and jurisprudence.  He united in an extraordinary degree an intense delight in thinking for its own sake, with an almost passionate desire to make his intellectual excursions contribute to the amelioration of the lot of mankind, especially of the poorer and suffering part of mankind.  And yet he never allowed those high aims to clash with one another:  he did not degrade his intellect to the sophistical office of finding reasons for a policy arising from mere emotion, nor did he permit it to run waste in barren speculations, which might have excited admiration, but never could have done any good.  This is the reason why so many persons have been unable to understand him as the prophet of utilitarianism.  A man of such exquisite feeling, of such pure conscientiousness, of such self-denying life, must surely be an advocate of what is called absolute morality.  Utilitarianism is the proper creed of hard unemotional natures, who do not respond to the more subtle moral influences.  Such is the view natural to those who cannot dissociate the word “utilitarianism” from the narrow meaning of utility, as contrasted with the pleasures of art.  The infirmity of human language excuses such errors; for the language in which controversy is conducted

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John Stuart Mill; His Life and Works from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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