On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
- Luke 10:25-37
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
- Mark 12:30-31
“As a philosopher Mill sets himself the task of synthesizing a valuable intellectual heritage with the new 19th-century Romanticism. His approach is less sceptical than that of Hume (who argued that all knowledge comes from sense experience, and nothing is certain) and less dogmatic than Bentham (who insisted that everything be judged on its usefulness), but their empiricism and utilitarianism informed his thinking. Mill’s moral and political philosophy is less extreme than his predecessors’, aiming for reform rather than revolution, and it formed the basis of British Victorian liberalism.
“After completing his ﬁrst philosophical work, the exhaustive six-volume System of Logic, Mill turned his attention to moral philosophy, particularly Bentham’s theories of utilitarianism. He had been struck by the elegant simplicity of Bentham’s principle of ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number’, and was a ﬁrm believer in its usefulness. He describes his interpretation of how utilitarianism might be applied as similar to Jesus of Nazareth’s ‘golden rule’: do as you would be done by, and love your neighbor as yourself. This, he says, constitutes ‘the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality.’”
- Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained
John Stuart (J. S.) Mill (1806-1873) was the son of James Mill (or Milne), a prominent philosopher and contemporary of Jeremy Bentham. At Bentham’s suggestion, J. S. Mill was home schooled, in isolation from other children other than his siblings, by his illustrious father, mastering Greek by the age of three and quoting the classics by the age of six or seven. He studied and worked hard until he had a breakdown at the age of 20. He took a job as an administrator within the East India Company, retiring when roughly 50 years old. At this point, he returned home and dove into philosophy with a fresh spirit.
As with the quote above, he followed Bentham’s Utilitarianism with touches of other philosophers. He was a vocal opponent of slavery and a vocal proponent of women’s rights. As these interests developed, he created a philosophy of his own, mentioned above as Victorian Liberalism. He used Bentham’s concept of the greatest happiness was that of the greatest number, but he had problems with the majority rule concept. He claimed the majority rule was in a sense, a form of tyranny. In other words, if a group maintains a majority vote, by the slimmest of margins, then nearly half the populace has no voice.
He lived the life of the Good Samaritan and loving one’s neighbor, but from philosophy texts and history books, could we claim him to be a devout Christian? Following Christ is more than a good moral code and doing good for those who are in need. We need a relationship with Jesus.
“One person with a belief is a social power equal to 99 who have only interests.”
- John Stuart Mill
J. S. Mill wrote three essays in one publication, Three Essays on Religion: Nature, The Utility of Religion, and Theism. In as much he speaks of the need for religion, the belief in God, and a preference for monotheism as opposed to polytheism, what he was exposed to in India. He followed the moral teachings of Jesus, but is that enough?
It is not enough for each of us. God wants us to have a total commitment to Jesus. The proof of that is a heart for the needy and giving of ourselves for those less fortunate. J. S. Mill had a heart for the less fortunate. He recognized that there was a God and Jesus was a good moral teacher, but…
If the motivation within us is that God’s love is within us, and it bursts forth in a life similar to J. S. Mill, that comes close to what Jesus was saying in the Scripture above.
If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.