Published between 1850 and 1870, English social and political philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) offers his most sustained analysis of religious belief. Though not prepared to abandon the idea of an overall design in nature, Mill nonetheless argues that its violence and capriciousness mitigate against moral ends in nature's workings. Moreover, any designer of such a world as we experience cannot be all powerful and all good, for nature is 'too clumsily made and capriciously governed'.
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Author Biography - John Stuart Mill
JOHN STUART MILL was born in London on May 20, 1806, the son of noted Scottish economist and philosopher James Mill, who held an influential post in the powerful East India Company. Mill's natural talent and physical stamina were put to the test at a very young age when he undertook a highly structured and individual-ized upbringing orchestrated by his father, who believed that the mind was a passive receptacle for human experience. His educa-tion and training were so intense that he was reading Greek at the age of three and doing independent writing at six. Mill's education broadened considerably after 1823 when he entered the East India Company to commence his life's career as his father had done before him. He traveled, became politically involved, and in so doing moved away from the narrower sectar-ian attitudes in which he had been raised. His ideas and imagina-tion were ignited by the views of such diverse personalities as Wordsworth, Saint-Simon, Coleridge, Comte, and de Tocqueville. During his life, Mill wrote many influential works: System of Logic (1843); Principles of Political Economy (1848); On Liberty (1859); The Subjection of Women (1861); Utilitarianism (1863); Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy (1865); and Autobiography (1873). As a defender of individual freedom and human rights, John Stuart Mill lives on as a nineteenth-century champion of social reform. He died on May 7, 1873.