Tag Archives: John Stuart Mill

C. D. Broad

[D]id Bacon provide any logical justification for the principles and methods which he elicited and which scientists assume and use? He did not, and he never saw that it was necessary to do so. There is a skeleton in the cupboard of Inductive Logic, which Bacon never suspected and Hume first exposed to view. Kant conducted the most elaborate funeral in history, and called Heaven and Earth and the Noumena under the Earth to witness that the skeleton was finally disposed of. But, when the dust of the funeral procession had subsided and the last strains of the Transcendental Organ had died away, the coffin was found to be empty and the skeleton in its old place. Mill discretely closed the door of the cupboard, and with infinite tact turned the conversation into mote cheerful channels. Mr Johnson and Mr Keynes may fairly be said to have reduced the skeleton to the dimensions of a mere skull. But that obstinate caput mortuum still awaits the undertaker who will give it Christian burial. May we venture to hope that when Bacon’s next centenary is celebrated the great work which he set going will be completed; and that Inductive Reasoning, which has long been the glory of Science, will have ceased to be the scandal of Philosophy?

C. D. Broad, The Philosophy of Francis Bacon, an address delivered at Cambridge on the occasion of the Bacon Tercentenary, 5 October 1926, Cambridge, 1926, pp. 66–67

John Maynard Keynes

The [Essay] can claim a place amongst those which have had great influence on the progress of thought. It is profoundly in the English tradition of humane science—in that tradition of Scotch and English thought, in which there has been, I think, an extraordinary continuity of feeling, if I may so express it, from the eighteenth century to the present time—the tradition which is suggested by the names of Locke, Hume, Adam Smith, Paley, Bentham, Darwin, and Mill, a tradition marked by a love of truth and a most noble lucidity, by a prosaic sanity free from sentiment or metaphysic, and by an immense disinterestedness and public spirit.

John Maynard Keynes, ‘Robert Malthus: The First of the Cambridge Economists’, in Essays in Biography, London, 1933, p. 120

Richard Reeves

Mill’s sex life is important in terms of understanding him as a man, of course, but there are some philosophical implications too. Mill was his century’s pre-eminent thinker on the content of a good life—of which sex must surely form a part. More specifically, in his version of utilitarianism, Mill insisted that it was not only the quantity of pleasure that counted but its intrinsic quality. He distinguished between lower pleasures, defined as ‘animal appetites’ consisting of ‘mere sensation’ and ‘higher’ pleasures ‘of the intellect, of the feelings and imagination, and of the moral sentiments’. Mill suggested sampling, to see which was preferable: ‘Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure.’ Mill’s view was that the majority of people who had experienced the pleasure of, say, having sex and reading poetry, would find the latter a more intrinsically valuable pleasure; but according to his own philosophical rules he would have been prohibited form making any such judgement unless he had himself experienced both.

Richard Reeves, John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand, London, 2007, p. 154