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Title: James Mill's 'History of British India' in its intellectual context
Author: Chen, Jeng-Guo
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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This thesis aims to provide a comprehensive study of James Mill's History of British India in its intellectual context. The conventional interpretation of this work sees it as a thoroughly Benthamite study. This thesis, however, argues that the Scottish Enlightenment, with its moral philosophy, philosophical history and political economy, was responsible for Mill's ideas on civilisation and on the non-European world. This thesis consciously treats James Mill as particular beneficiary of the Scottish Enlightenment in the post- French Revolution age. It, first, demonstrates the importance of the four stages of theory in shaping the Scottish Enlightenment's view of civil society and of historical progress. Second, the thesis illustrates that from the 1790s onwards, more face to face and personal observations of Indian and of Asian societies, and more pseudo-sociological or anthropological texts became available in Britain. Discussing women's economic and political conditions, these texts dramatically changed the conventional and previously favourable images of Asia. At the same time, Dugald Stewart's lineal view of the progress of history started to gain momentum. Francis Jeffrey's concept of semi-barbarism of Asian societies also helped to accommodate different types of manners within the same economic infrastructure. Third, this thesis argues that Robertson's History of America is the model that most influenced James Mill's History, which, none the less, challenged Robertson's and William Jones's descriptions of Indian society. This thesis argues that Mill was particularly influenced by Jeffrey's concept of semi-barbarism. He used this concept and the comparative study of manners and the historical mind to theorise about the semibarbarism he believed has presented in all Asian societies. Lastly, this thesis argues that though James Mill's view of reform had its roots in the thought of the Scottish Enlightenment, it was also influenced by Bentham's principles of Utilitarianism. The unresolved dualism of the Scottish Enlightenment and Benthamite Utilitarianism colours James Mill's view about administrative reform in India, with special references to justice and individual liberty.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available