Mill’s fundamental philosophical ideas are contained in A System of Logic, which came out in 1843, and in two works published in 1865: Auguste Comte and Positivism and An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy, where at great length Mill annihilates a philosopher who would otherwise be forgotten. The Principles of Political Economy, published in 1848, was begun in late 1845 and finished in early 1847. That a closely reasoned and information-packed book of 450,000 words should be written in so short a time is astonishing, the more so in view of the fact that Mill spent six of those months writing forty-three leaders for the Morning Chronicle on the Irish potato famine, and continued to fulfil his duties at India House. Mill revised the book for the second and third editions of 1849 and 1852 so as to give a more sympathetic discussion of socialism. There were five further editions in Britain in Mill’s lifetime, plus a cheap People’s edition. It was the standard textbook in economics for half a century, attracted a wide general readership and influenced British politics: together with the Logic it laid the foundations of Mill’s reputation as a serious thinker. In fact, Mill’s most creative and original work as an economist is in his four Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy, written by 1830 but not published until 1844.
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