Utilitas 10 (1):83-104 (1998)

L. A. Paul
Yale University
I claim that Mill has a theory of poetry which he uses to reconcile nineteenth century associationist psychology, the tendency of the intellect to dissolve associations, and the need for educated members of society to desire utilitarian ends. The heart of the argument is that Mill thinks reading poetry encourages us to feel the feelings of others, and thus to develop pleasurable associations with the pleasurable feelings of others and painful associations with the painful feelings of others. Once the associations are developed, they are supported and maintained by our natural capacity for sympathy and by external elements in society, and provide motivation for the pursuit of utilitarian ends. Further, the additional support causes the associations to be strengthened to the extent that they come to be seen as ‘natural and necessary’, and as such are immune from the dissolving force of the intellect.
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DOI 10.1017/S0953820800006014
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Essays on Philosophy and the Classics. [REVIEW]D. A. Rees, J. S. Mill & J. M. Robson - 1982 - Journal of Hellenic Studies 102:260-260.
Journals and Debating Speeches.John StuartHG Mill - 1988 - University of Toronto Press.

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