This chapter considers some questions concerning the department of virtue or aesthetics in Mill's Art of Life. Since morality is a restricted domain within the Art of Life, much of human happiness depends upon the flourishing of virtue and aesthetics. Mill devotes considerable attention in his writings to aesthetic education. Aesthetics and appreciation of poetry and the natural environment are connected, and the philosopher-poet Wordsworth is the exemplar. Mill argues that one role of the perspective of aesthetics is to offer methods for moving beyond egoism to facilitate selflessness and compassion and wider identifications of self and others. The chapter explores Mill's utilitarian sensibility and compares it with other models for cultivating selflessness and developing empathy and compassion: those of environmental deep ecology and of Mahayana Buddhism and its meditative practices to realize emptiness or enlightenment.

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Keywords Aesthetics, Art of life, Buddhism, Compassion, Deep ecology, Education, Environment, John stuart mill, Poetry, Virtue, William wordsworth
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381245.003.0007
Citation
Donner, W. (2010). Morality, Virtue, and Aesthetics in Mill's Art of Life. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381245.003.0007