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John Stuart Mill and the Meaning of Life - Oxford Scholarship Online
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John Stuart Mill and the Meaning of Life

Elijah Millgram


The popular view that the meaning of a life should be a project is assessed by examining a life that did have that shape. John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian life project is described, and is argued to be a best representative of the class. Turning points and unusual features of Mill’s life are shown to be side effects or preconditions of having a very large project center stage in it. Life projects are motivated as satisfying a coherence requirement imposed on the valuable elements of a life. But Mill’s biography demonstrates that living out one’s life as a project undermines its coherence. The ov ... More

Keywords: meaning of life, John Stuart Mill, projects, Harriet Taylor, utilitarianism, David Wiggins

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780190873240
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190873240.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Elijah Millgram, author
E. E. Ericksen Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of Utah