John Stuart Mill

A Biography

John Stuart Mill

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.


"A very welcome new intellectual life of Mill, which gives full weight not just to his philosophical and technical writing but also to his status as a public intellectual. The highly readable biography is particularly illuminating about Mill's status within nineteenth-century theories of the place of the creative artist and the imagination, and it gives extended and thoughtful treatment to his intellectual and personal relationship with Harriet Taylor." Kate Flint, Studies in English Literature

"...solidly grounded, briskly argued...a considerable achievement. Nicholas Capaldi is a deft commentator. John Stuart Mill is a good and persuasive book." Alan Ryan

"As a work of biography, it succeeds in forcefully presenting Mill as a theorist concerned above all with defending liberal culture in general, and highlights the absolute centrality of individual autonomy to that defense." Metapsychology Online

"Capaldi has succeeded nicely in bringing together Mill's life and Mill's ideas - his theories and his values - , illuminating both. This study is recommended for anyone with an interest in the man and his thought." Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Mill scholars and students of 19th-century thought and English Romanticism will find this biography engrossing." The New York Sun

"It is solidly grounded, briskly argued, and agreeably free from the sound of grinding axes." New York Review of Books

"Capaldi's intellectual biography passes, with flying colors, the important test for the success of a biography: after reading it, I have both a sense of having learned a great deal and a desire to learn more about the part of history that both influenced and was influenced by John Stuart Mill."
P.A. Woodward, The Review of Metaphysics


CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2004