“It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied": Rare First Edition of John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism; Signed by Him


MILL, John Stuart.


Item Number: 124105

London: Parker, Son and Bourn, 1863.

First edition of the author’s landmark work. Octavo, original cloth, publisher’s advertisements. Presentation copy, signed by John Stuart Mill on the title page, “From the author.” From the library of Helen and William Belknap with their bookplate to the pastedown and his ownership stamp. William Burke Belknap was an economist and a professor of economics at the University of Louisville. Leading up to and during World War II, he volunteered for service with the Red Cross in Ramsay and Plymouth, England. A trustee of Berea College and a graduate of Yale and Harvard, he served two terms as a representative in the Kentucky General Assembly. We cannot trace another signed first edition in the past 100 years. Rare and desirable.

Utilitarianism is Mill's classic exposition and defense of utilitarianism in ethics. The essay first appeared as a series of three articles published in Fraser's Magazine in 1861; the articles were collected and reprinted as a single book in 1863.[1] Mill's aim in the book is to explain what utilitarianism is, to show why it is the best theory of ethics, and to defend it against a wide range of criticisms and misunderstandings. Mill's Utilitarianism remains "the most famous defense of the utilitarian view ever written" (J. B. Schneewind, Sidgwick's Ethics and Victorian Moral Philosophy) and is still widely assigned in university ethics courses around the world. Because of Mill, utilitarianism rapidly became the dominant ethical theory in Anglo-American philosophy.

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