There are more discrepancies in his defense of utilitarianism, which is a dastardly ugly and almost impossible to understand theory there are many, for instance, who think that its emphasis on the greater good looks like communism, but this theory is really about making everyone happy through commodities, which is obvious when one looks at the quantitative aspect.
Furthermore, it is surely no coincidence that the largest propoganda compaign in human history, consumer advertising, literally began right after Mill's essays collected here were published. All in all, Mill can be seen in these confusing and contradictory essays to be one of the key architects of our incredibly ugly, wonderfully modern, liberal-nightmare where freedoms exist so long as one doesn't test them , consumer-driven mess of a society. View all 17 comments. Apr 29, Richard Newton rated it really liked it Shelves: philosophy.
This is a nice edition bringing together 4 of Mill's essays into one volume. If you are not familiar with Mill's writing the underlying ideas are powerful even if there are flaws in some of the arguments. His liberalism was ahead of its time, and its easy to forget how radical some of his views were. The writing style is typical of its era - long winded, long sentences and long paragraphs. Focus on what he is saying rather than how he is saying it, and you will get most out of it.
If This is a nice edition bringing together 4 of Mill's essays into one volume. If Mill was writing in a modern style then the essays would be much shorter! But you get into the writing once you have read a few chapters. Having said that, there are wonderful pieces of English in this book, and some parts are a pleasure to read in a way that a modern writer would not achieve. I did not find Gray's introduction that fantastic, which is a shame as the introduction can add huge value to an edition like this.
I often like Gray's writing, and I know he does not always make it easy for the reader - but this introduction is hard work. That's not to say it's not worth the effort, but I don't really believe it needs to be such an effort! Nov 02, Kirk rated it liked it Shelves: classics , annual-summer-classic. It was not the easiest read. He rarely pulls up to summarize. This book put me to sleep many times and I rarely could read more than 20 pages in a go. Many naps later, it is finished. This all being said, there were a lot of thought provoking arguments across all four essays and I enjoyed them all for various reasons.
I understand why excerpts are still passed out in political science and philosophy classes today, but the longer versions are a lot to take in.
Contradictions in “On Liberty”: The Weaknesses of Mill’s Pillars of Freedom
I did more active reading in the first essay than the other three. But within this text are several gems explaining the value of liberty. As I understand it, Mills argues: 1. People should have complete liberty concerning themselves a. People can be compelled by the state to participate in certain actions for the social good, such as participate in the military, testify in court, and to not act negligently towards the well-being of others… so Mills was not a rabid libertarian 3. He is a vehement defender of freedom of discussion and the marketplace of ideas.
This is essential for allowing new ideas to flourish and progress to be made b. As a corollary, preaches open-mindedness and nonconformity as a way to develop new thinking and to encourage a safe atmosphere for expressing different thoughts c. In fact, the collective wisdom of the masses is merely collective mediocrity. Deferral to majority opinion will only regress the best of us to the mean so as not to allow unequal reward.
Mills is egalitarian — genius can come from anywhere - but not democratic — the masses are irresponsible with power and average citizen is mediocre in thought. Norms of nonconformity are desirable, not because everyone is special and will contribute new ideas, but because we have to establish the structure such that the few geniuses who are capable of new thoughts and inventions can drive society forward. In other words, liberty is essential for a true meritocracy.
Norms of uniformity cannot allow true liberty. Laws are equally as important as social norms in promoting this liberty 4. Mills believes societal laws should have limits, but it not entirely clear himself where the line should be drawn a. Society has jurisdiction when ones actions begins to harm others b.
Again - laws, social norms and societal obligations should exist. Mills is not an objectivist who believes only in rational self-interest this was surprising to me. There need to be limits on the power of society over its people, he recognizes the slippery slope of giving purchase to the regulation of conduct, and implores that it not be enlarged to enforce morality or opinion of the majority. There is a lot of danger in expanding the justification of when a society can interfere. Anything can be construed as harming me or society indirectly or through offense.
Government should not interfere when it infringes on liberty. When 1 individuals are better suited to perform a task than the government 2 it is good for an individual to perform a task, even if the government can perform it better 3 doing so adds unnecessarily to government power. If government tries to do too much for people, people no longer have the incentive to explore, invent, grow and develop. His ideal governmental structure would involve centralized information dissemination of best practices but local control 1 p. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
Their thinking is done for them by men much like themselves. All errors which he is likely to commit against advice and warning, are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to what they deem the good. So monstrous a principle is far more dangerous than any single interference with liberty; there is no violation of liberty which would justify it. It is the sole case, now that negro slavery has been abolished, in which a human being in the plenitude of every faculty delivered up to the tender mercies of another human being, in the hope forsooth that this other will use the power solely for the good of the person subjected to it.
Marriage is the only actual bondage known to our low. There remains no legal slaves, except the mistress of every house. The only canonical author who has actually shaped my political philosophy. Great essays.
- interpretive essay of tolstoy.
- On Liberty and Other Essays (with an Introduction by A. D. Lindsay);
- essay on my home in french language?
- thesis on demand for money.
- SparkNotes: On Liberty.
Also, the man knows is eminently quotable. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless m The only canonical author who has actually shaped my political philosophy. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself" May 28, John Smith rated it it was ok.
Mill was a twat. Mar 25, Marc rated it it was ok Shelves: politics , liberalism. Classic, advanced theory of liberalism. Still remarkably pragmatic. Is basic text to understand the 19th century. As part of my ongoing study of Meekonomics I read a lot of books on economics, politics, philosophy and religion. That way you get to see not only what tweaked my interest but how and why it did so. The tweets below are in italics with my further comment and observation following in regular type.
Self-government is an ideal and a myth that is fed to the lower classes by the upper classes but the actual levers of power are kept far away from those that are deemed too un-educated or otherwise in capable of any real control. The function of the middle class is to act as a buffer between the upper classes and the lower classes. It is the middle classes that are expect to buy into the myth of equality the most, for if they were to side with the lower classes, those in the upper class that exert control would soon be forced out of power.
The only purpose 4 which power can be exercised over any member of a civilized community, is 2 prevent harm 2 others. That has always sounded like a hollow argument to me. However, for my liberty to be curtailed for the good of the community is a completely different argument. Many of my atheist friends will no doubt stand up and cheer at this point, but not so fast, all beliefs must be open to this level of scrutiny and to date neither side of the atheism, deism debate has been able to definitively prove their position so we must continue to search for new and better explanations for the they the universe works until one belief is so proven to be unfounded.
The advantage truth has is that though it may be extinguished in the course of ages there will be found peple 2 rediscover it. Although Mill stops short of a definitive definition here he does make it clear that truth is powerful enough to withstand persecution and re-emerge after times of suppression over the course of many years. It has been said that the truth shall set you free, but it must first be set free.
It is not the minds of the heretics that are deteriorated most, but whose mental development is cramped by the fear of heresy. Mill goes on to pose the hypothetical question, what other ideas and innovations have been lost to mankind forever simply as a result of the fear of being branded a heretic? By Xianity I mean the maxims contained in the NT. Not one Xtian in a guides his conduct by those laws.
He is also a consulting editor of The Family Journal. In , he received the Smart Marriages Impact Award. On Liberty and Other Essays.
John Stuart Mill. Collected here in a single volume for the first time, On Liberty, Utilitarianism, Considerations on Representative Government, and The Subjection of Women show Mill applying his liberal utilitarian philosophy to a range of issues that remain vital today - issues of the nature of ethics, the scope and limits of individual liberty, the merits of and costs of democratic government, and the place of women in society.
Using the resources of recent revisionist scholarship, he shows Mill's work to be far richer and subtler than traditional interpretations allow.
John Stuart Mill (ed.), On Liberty and Other Essays - PhilPapers
See all books by John Stuart Mill. About John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill was a child of radicalism, born in into a rarefied realm of philosophic discourse. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Related Articles.
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