Introduction J.S Mill

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I. Introduction

J. S. Mill was a most unusual and gifted thinker who contributed significantly not only to economics but also to political science and philosophy. His tremendous intellectual powers were complemented by an education of unique breadth and intensity. Although J. S. Mill was an extremely capable economic theoretician, his intellectual background directed him toward much broader social issues than economists typically address. Mill was essentially social philosopher intent upon improving the role of the individual in society. In place of the pessimism of his father and Ricardo, he advanced a guarded optimism that contemplated the development of a good society. Although he read widely, the major influences on his economic ideas were his early training in the classical economics of Smith, Ricardo, his own father, and Bentham; the socialist writings of Fourier and Saint-Simon; the writings of Comte, sometimes called the father of sociology, who led Mill to view economics as only one aspect of human social activity; and, finally, his friend Harriet Taylor, who later became his wife and who taught Mill to be more receptive to the humanistic socialist ideas of his times. Mill was both a classical liberal and a social reformer.
J. S. Mill's position in the development of economic ideas is difficult to specify. He wrote at the end of the classical period, but his open-mindedness, one of his greatest assets, enabled him to modify classical doctrine in several ways. His economics is simultaneously the most mature statement of the classical position and the start of a new period in the development of economic thinking. His Principles of Political Economy, written in less than two years, was first published in 1848 and remained, in its subsequent seven editions, the standard in the field until the end of the century. The short period it took Mill to write the…...

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