Boston: William V. Spencer, 1865. Two volumes. 8vo. 330; 354 pp. First American edition. Publisher’s pebbled cloth, boards with ruled borders, spine with title, etc., in gilt; a fantastic copy. Item #16174
First American edition of Mill’s review of Hamilton’s philosophical ideas, one of his most important works on religion. Mill attacks Hamilton’s philosophy with a positive statement of Utilitarianism, an ethical theory propounded by Jeremy Bentham which states that the best action is the one that maximizes utility. It is here that Mill sets forth his most famous pronouncement on religion in his discussion of Mansel’s use of Hamilton’s view that we cannot know the absolute: “I will call no being good who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellow creatures, and if such a being can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.”
Mill (1806-1873), British philosopher, economist, moral and political theorist, and administrator, was the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century. His views are of continuing significance, and are generally recognized to be among the deepest and certainly the most effective defenses of empiricism and of a liberal political view of society and culture. The overall aim of his philosophy is to develop a positive view of the universe and the place of humans in it, one which contributes to the progress of human knowledge, individual freedom and human well-being.