Cover image for John Stuart Mill : a biography
John Stuart Mill : a biography
Capaldi, Nicholas.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xx, 436 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
B1606 .C36 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Nicholas Capaldi's biography of John Stuart Mill traces the ways in which Mill's many endeavors are related and explores the significance of his contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, social and political philosophy, the philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of education. Capaldi shows how Mill was groomed for his life by both his father James Mill and Jeremy Bentham, the two most prominent philosophical radicals of the early 19th century. Mill, however, revolted against this education and developed friendships with both Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Taylor Coleridge who introduced him to Romanticism and political conservatism. A special feature of this biography is the attention devoted to Mill's relationship with Harriet Taylor. No one exerted a greater influence than the woman he was eventually to marry. Capaldi reveals just how deep her impact was on Mill's thinking about the emancipation of women. Nicholas Capaldi was until recently the McFarlin Endowed Professor of Philosophy and Research Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa. He is the founder and former Director of Legal Studies. His principal research and teaching interest is in public policy and its intersection with political science, philosophy, law, religion, and economics. He is the author of six books, including The Art of Description (Prometheus, 1987) and How to Win Every Argument (MJF Books, 1999), over fifty articles, and editor of six anthologies. He is a recent recipient of the Templeton Foundation Freedom Project Award.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

While he is considered to be the greatest English intellectual of the 19th century, Mill (1806-1873) is often reduced to a set of parochial engagements with his "utilitarianism." In this authoritatively comprehensive analysis of Mill's lifelong explication of the "liberal culture" spawned by the Industrial Revolution, Loyola professor of business ethics Capaldi presents a probing account of the personal, social and environmental influences on Mill and his relationship to major intellectual precursors and contemporaries. Interspersed with a series of close readings of his mostly political essays and reviews, Mill's life is cast from a diverse quilt of perspectives, including schoolfriends Coleridge and Carlyle, which reveal the pluralistic character Victorian England. From his struggles with his father, James Mill, and the Benthamite Philosophical Radicals that saw him as their progeny, to his relationship with his wife Harriet Taylor (in "the most talked about affair of the 19th Century"), Mill's immense intellectual influence is situated within the social relationships that provide a revealing depth to his views on education, politics and feminism. Perhaps the most important element of this work is its presentation of Mill's uniquely organic synthesis of British ratiocination with German Romanticism that represented a nexus of Mill's educational heritage and his mature encounters with Continental thinkers, such as Kant and Hegel, Comte and Tocqueville. Capaldi's liberal use of primary texts and vigilant concern for intellectual context reveal Mill's thought as reflective of the overall Enlightenment turn towards integrating science, logic and metaphysics into politically oriented theories aimed at creating social equality. Capaldi's sensitivity to intellectual cross-currents breathes new life into Mill, for whom there is no other biography currently in print, and gives an outstanding account of 19th century European social-philosophical thought. (Feb. 1) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Choice Review

To write a biography of a philosopher's life as well as his ideas requires a combination of gifts: historical knowledge, psychological insight, philosophical acumen, interpretive sense, and the ability to let the philosopher speak for himself. These gifts are on display in Capaldi's engaging and revealing biography of J.S. Mill. Capaldi (College of Business Administration, Loyola Univ.) sure-handedly situates Mill in both his social and intellectual milieu, and gives due weight to Mill's complicated relationship with his family, especially his distinguished father James Mill, and with England itself. Personally, Mill's deep love and appreciation for Harriet Taylor is portrayed sensitively and powerfully. Philosophically, Mill is often regarded, along with Jeremy Bentham, as a "classic utilitarian." But what Capaldi's biography shows convincingly is that Mill took at least as much, if not more, from Romanticism than he did from the utilitarianism of Bentham and his father. Mill's project, indeed, can be seen as a masterful attempt to synthesize the best in each, but, if Capaldi is correct, the synthesis tips in the direction of Romanticism, not utilitarianism. This fine biography will be of keen interest to a variety of readers. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-level students through professionals/practitioners. H. Oberdiek Swarthmore College

Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgements
Part I Setting the Stage: Prologue: Legacies
1 The education of an actor, 1882-1919
Part II The Productions
2 Richard III, 1920
3 Hamlet, 1922-1924
4 The London Hamlet, 1925
Part III Aftermath
5 Shakespeare in Hollywood, 1925-1942
Appendix A The casts
Appendix B The texts