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Assigned: Autobiography (1166-73).
1. Why, according to Mill at the outset of our selection (Chapter 5), did his early enthusiasm for social reform suffer a profound shock? What led the young J. S. Mill into his near-suicidal depression?
2. What, according to Mill, was wrong with the utilitarian education given him by his Benthamist father James Mill? What was wrong with the view of human nature underlying that education?
3. What event led to a lessening of this depression (see 1169), and why did it have that effect? What, according to Mill, truly binds people together as a community?
4. How does Mill, after recovering from his breakdown, redefine his concept of the individual? What is the source of human happiness, in Mill's view?
5. How did the poetry of Wordsworth greatly assist Mill in his recovery? What is it that Wordsworth understands about human nature that Bentham and James Mill evidently did not understand?
Abrams, M. H. et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vols. 2A-C. 7th ed. New York: Norton, 2000. ISBN 2A = 0393975681, 2B = 039397569X, 2C = 0393975703.