The Utilitarians, Stephen argues, were social reformers first and philosophers second, if at all. The history of philosophy is not an isolated domain governed by the unfolding of a timeless inner logic; rather it is an integral part of the history of humanity. "The English Utilitarians of whom I am about to give some account were a group of men who for three generations had a conspicuous influence upon English thought and political action. Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, and John Stuart Mill were successively their leaders; and I shall speak of each in turn." Sir Leslie Stephen was the first serious critic of the novel, and he was also editor of the great Dictionary of National Biography from its beginning in 1882 until 1891. In 1859 he was ordained a minister. As a tutor at Cambridge his philosophical readings led him to skepticism, and later he relinquished his holy orders. He wrote several essays defending his agnostic position. Throughout his life Stephen was a prominent athlete and mountaineer. Virginia Woolf was the younger of his two daughters by his second wife. His first wife was Harriet Marian Thackeray, daughter of the novelist.
This is volume two of a three volume set.