Love, Poetry, and the Good Life: Mill's Autobiography and Perfectionist Ethics

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 53 (6):565-578 (2010)
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I argue for a perfectionist reading of Mill’s account of the good life, by using the failures of development recorded in his Autobiography as a way to understand his official account of happiness in Utilitarianism. This work offers both a new perspective on Mill’s thought, and a distinctive account of the role of aesthetic and emotional capacities in the most choiceworthy human life. I consider the philosophical purposes of autobiography, Mill’s disagreements with Bentham, and the nature of competent judges and the pleasure they take in higher culture. I conclude that Millian perfectionism is an attractive and underappreciated option for contemporary value theory.

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Sam Clark
Lancaster University

Citations of this work

Good Work.Samuel Clark - 2015 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 34 (1):61-73.
Narrative, Self-Realization, and the Shape of a Life.Samuel Clark - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (2):371-385.

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References found in this work

Bentham.John Stuart Mill - 1987 - In Utilitarianism and other essays. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Penguin Books.

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