I argue for a perfectionist reading of Mill's account of the good life, by using the failures of development recorded in his Autobiography as a way to understand his official account of happiness in Utilitarianism. This work offers both a new perspective on Mill's thought, and a distinctive account of the role of aesthetic and emotional capacities in the most choiceworthy human life. I consider the philosophical purposes of autobiography, Mill's disagreements with Bentham, and the nature of competent judges and the pleasure they take in higher culture. I conclude that Millian perfectionism is an attractive and underappreciated option for contemporary value theory.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Inquiry, 53 (6), 2010, © Informa Plc