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John Stuart Mill and the Art of Life$
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Ben Eggleston, Dale Miller, and David Weinstein

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381245

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381245.001.0001

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An Alternative Modernity

An Alternative Modernity

Mill on Capitalism and the Quality of Life

(p.236) 10 An Alternative Modernity
John Stuart Mill and the Art of Life

Nadia Urbinati

Oxford University Press

The chapter shows how the dialogue with ancient moral philosophy prompted John Stuart Mill's reflection on modernity. To cultivate the “quality of life”—a Millian expression that echoes Aristotle's care for the good life—the moderns ought to be equally attentive to virtues as they are to norms. Ancient moral philosophy, he thought, embodied an idea of happiness that is quite in disagreement with the functionalist logic of modern society, yet not impossible for the moderns to appropriate in their own way. His attempt to link virtues and norms explains his dissatisfaction with both utilitarianism and the idea of well-being purported by classical economy and his positive view of a stationary state of society as an opportunity for inaugurating a new social order, a “liberal social utopia.”

Keywords:   ancient philosophy, happiness and well-being, moral virtues, stationary state, social progress, capitalism, social classes, citizenship, quality of life

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