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Alternate cover edition of ISBN Published in , John Stuart Mill s On Liberty presented one of the most eloquent defenses of individual freedom in nineteenth century social and political philosophy and is today perhaps the most widely read liberal argument in support of the value of liberty Mill s passionate advocacy of spontaneity, individuality, and diversity, along with his contempt for compulsory uniformity and the despotism of popular opinion, has attracted both admiration and condemnation


10 thoughts on “On Liberty

  1. Stephen Stephen says:

    WARNING Some of my political views are discussed in this VERY LONG review I don t think there is anything offensive but with politics, you never know Therefore, in case anything I say upsets anyone, I have included several very CUTE kitten photos by way of apology 6.0 starsOn Liberty has secured a spot on my list of All Time Favorite books I have gone through a pretty significant political re examination over the last several years maybe a lot of us have A few years ago, if you were WARNING Some of my political views are discussed in this VERY LONG review I don t think there is anything offensive but with politics, you never know Therefore, in case anything I say upsets anyone, I have included several very CUTE kitten photos by way of apology 6.0 starsOn Liberty has secured a spot on my list of All Time Favorite books I have gone through a pretty significant political re examination over the last several years maybe a lot of us have A few years ago, if you were to line up everyone on goodreads according to political beliefs, I would guess that I would be found at theconservative end of the spectrum However, recently, I have come to see that I disagree with LARGE CHUNKS of both political parties and find myself embracing alibertarian philosophy Without going into a detailed thesis of my political beliefs, I am going to share a few basic beliefs so that you will understand where I am coming from in relation to the theories that Mill argues in favor of in this book The following is a political advertisement on behalf of S PAC Stupid Political Asshats of Congress which is sponsored in part by the WTF Association whose motto is,When you can see it but just can t believe it.WTFSocial Issues On social issues, I think you can generally sum up my feelings as follows I believe, with certain exceptions, everyone should be free to do whatever they want so long they are not causing harm to anybody else and this freedom necessarily extends to control over their own body I know that is pretty simplistic but the nuances would take forever to explain so hopefully I can explain the basic gist For example, I think people should be able to a Eat whatever you want does not seem to be a problem for people in the U.S b Drink what you want of course, we run into the whole cause no harm thing once you get behind the wheel c Smoke cigarettes and cigars if you want with reasonable restrictions for places where people either have no choice in being e.g., work, school or little choice e.g., an airplane or mass transportation d Do drugs if you want I may not like this one but it would be hypocritical of me to distinguish this from the whole free to live as you want and control your own body philosophy however, the cause no harm requirement still applies e Love who you want provided we are talking consenting ADULTS For me, this is a no brainer Two consenting adults caring for one anotherlet s move on Point of clarification 1 I said consenting ADULTS Pedophiles and NAMBLA spokesmen can go ahead and sit back down or better yet f Abortion.uh, I think I just stumbled upon one of the third rails of politics However, like the drug issue I think it would be hypocritical of me to argue an exception to the whole control over your own body philosophy and therefore, regardless of what one personally believes, I don t believe you should have the right to impose that belief on someone else and thus a person should be free to choose Point of Clarificaiton 2 I can hear the do no harm contingent screaming on this one and I understand the argument but for me at least , the other interests don t overcome the fundamental freedom over one s own body Okay, this is getting a little heavy, so I would like to take a short break to look at another cute animal photo Ahhhhh, that is cute Okay, I feel better Economic Issues Being consistent and applying the same reasoning as above to economic issues will probably make me sound very conservative, but it is really just a consistent application of the concept of individual freedom Basically, I think that people should be free to keep what they earn, except for some reasonably allocated portion needed to DEFEND the Country and to protect the rights of people to live their lives free from oppression by their neighbor Point of Clarification 3I said DEFEND the Country That does NOT mean the equivalent of getting a bunch of your buddies together, grabbing a pile of gold from the money room and storming off next door because you think they MIGHT be the next Mordor Now I certainly understand that for a lot of people this is just too limited a governmental role and they feel like there are things the government NEEDS to do I certainly acknowledge that the government does a lot of things that help a lot of people For me, the problem arises when I step back and start with the basic premise that every dollar the government has must be TAKEN from someone e.g., through taxes, tariffs, or borrowing from our kids Now when those taxes go to benefit everyone e.g., defense, police, courts, etc then it is simply a matter of figuring out how to fairly allocate the burden among the people However, when money is taken from one group and given it to another group, suddenly you are in the position of necessarily imposing one group s values on another Suddenly it is necessary to lobby the government so that your group is the one that comes out on top Thus, you get the rise of the special interest group, the name calling, the buying of influence through campaign contribution and everyone fighting for control over the public teat Basically, you get our current political system which just seems broken to me Well, I have probably saidabout myself than most of you care to know Hopefully, I haven t offended anyone even if you don t agree with anything I have said Thank you for listening to me ramble and, as a form of appreciation, I offer you another cute kitten picture Well, with that VERY LONG introduction, I now come to the book itself On Liberty is in many ways a bible for libertarian philosophy and encompasses many of the ideas I mentioned above In the book, Mill takes the position that, with certain limited exceptions, people should be free to think what they want, believe what they want, worship or not worship as they want, speak and write freely and conduct their own personal lives without interference from the government Mill argues that the government s role should be to create the environment whereby people can be free from the oppression of their neighbor and should not intrude in or exert control over the day to day lives of its citizens In addition to his strong defense in favor of freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly and debate, Mill also passionately argues that all of the very assumptions that we live by should never be held so sacred as to be excluded from debate Mill argues that only by examining our beliefs and subjecting them to rigorous debate and evaluation can we achieve true wisdom I thought that was a wonderful way of saying keep an open mind and always be willing to challenge your assumptions One final thing I wanted to mention that I found fascinating for a book written in 1859, was Mills position on women s rights Mills categorically believed that the right to be free and live your life as you choose applied equally to both women and men He spoke of the oppression of husbands over their wives as being absolutely contrary to the principle of individual freedom I found him to seriously ahead of time on that subject and it just made me appreciate his positions even .Overall, I have rarely found myselfin agreement with a book on political theory and am sure I will be reading this again in the future HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION


  2. Ahmad Sharabiani Ahmad Sharabiani says:

    On Liberty, John Stuart Mill On Liberty is a philosophical work by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill, originally intended as a short essay The work, published in 1859, applies Mill s ethical system of utilitarianism to society and the state Mill attempts to establish standards for the relationship between authority and liberty He emphasizes the importance of individuality, which he conceived as a prerequisite to the higher pleasures the summum bonum The highest good of utilitarianism On Liberty, John Stuart Mill On Liberty is a philosophical work by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill, originally intended as a short essay The work, published in 1859, applies Mill s ethical system of utilitarianism to society and the state Mill attempts to establish standards for the relationship between authority and liberty He emphasizes the importance of individuality, which he conceived as a prerequisite to the higher pleasures the summum bonum The highest good of utilitarianism Further, Mill criticizes the errors of past attempts to defend individuality where, for example, democratic ideals resulted in the tyranny of the majority Among the standards established in this work are Mill s three basic liberties of individuals, his three legitimate objections to government intervention, and his two maxims regarding the relationship of the individual to society 1970 1338 1348 269 1349 306 1340 1363 1375 416 9644450094 1385 19 185912 04 1399


  3. notgettingenough notgettingenough says:

    Anybody interested in free speech must surely be concerned with the situation of Bret Weinstein in the US See for instance his hour interview here can only be deeply ashamed that non conservative media has I understand all but ignored this story Curious to have a statement of why this is so, I ve written to NPR to find out why they have not reported one word on it I am waiting for a response.Meanwhile, John Stuart Mill s words to remind us of wha Anybody interested in free speech must surely be concerned with the situation of Bret Weinstein in the US See for instance his hour interview here can only be deeply ashamed that non conservative media has I understand all but ignored this story Curious to have a statement of why this is so, I ve written to NPR to find out why they have not reported one word on it I am waiting for a response.Meanwhile, John Stuart Mill s words to remind us of what is at stake The students who are behaving so disgracefully, who have no interest in truth and most certainly no interest in free speech except theirs, of course would do well to heed his words, so timely in a period in which groups of thugs rule and noises on social media make do as replacements for truth, for philosophical contemplation and the like What could beapt than the following words on social tyranny I note in particular from what Weinstein has said of his situation, that is isn t even the lack of coverage by the left, craven as that is which is most disappointing What is really disturbing is the number of people who support him in private but will not stand up in public This is a terrible world we live in where thuggery has won and free speech is a thing of the past To think that it is the left of centre that is creating this situation, too scared to stand up for this elementary principle, and that it is conservatives who are filling the vacuum is a truly depressing state of affairs Society can and does execute its own mandates and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyrannyformidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating muchdeeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own The principle itself of dogmatic religion, dogmatic morality, dogmatic philosophy, is what requires to be rooted out not any particular manifestation of that principle The very corner stone of an education intended to form great minds, must be the recognition of the principle, that the object is to call forth the greatest possible quantity of intellectual power, and to inspire the intensest love of truth and this without a particle of regard to the results to which the exercise of that power may lead, even though it should conduct the pupil to opinions diametrically opposite to those of his teachers We say this, not because we think opinions unimportant, but because of the immense importance which we attach to them for in proportion to the degree of intellectual power and love of truth which we succeed in creating, is the certainty that whatever may happen in any one particular instance in the aggregate of instances true opinions will be the result and intellectual power and practical love of truth are alike impossible where the reasoner is shown his conclusions, and informed beforehand that he is expected to arrive at them I m afraid even this is pertinent War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, is often the means of their regeneration A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he caresabout than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other The Contest in America, Fraser s Magazine February 1862 later published in Dissertations and Discussions 1868 , vol.1 p 26How can great minds be produced in a country where the test of a great mind is agreeing in the opinions of small minds It might be plausibly maintained, that in almost every one of the leading controversies, past or present, in social philosophy, both sides were in the right in what they affirmed, though wrong in what they denied.All lifted from wiki quotes


  4. Rebecca McNutt Rebecca McNutt says:

    I ve been meaning to read this old classic for a long time now, and I m really glad I finally got around to it Regardless of whether or not you agree with its ideas, On Liberty is certainly worth a look at In its short but complex look at society and individuality, it manages to reach law, philosophy and politics all at once and really leave you thinking Unfortunately my mom took the copy of it we have to Belize before I could finish the last two pages so technically I didn t complete it, but I ve been meaning to read this old classic for a long time now, and I m really glad I finally got around to it Regardless of whether or not you agree with its ideas, On Liberty is certainly worth a look at In its short but complex look at society and individuality, it manages to reach law, philosophy and politics all at once and really leave you thinking Unfortunately my mom took the copy of it we have to Belize before I could finish the last two pages so technically I didn t complete it, but it s a strangely engaging read You d expect it to be a bit dry from its description, but it s actually very interesting and a book that everybody can enjoy and learn from no matter their background or knowledge I especially liked how down to earth and concise Mill is in his writing Short, sweet and to the point, he never throws in pointless filler and always has something enlightening to say


  5. Ian Ian says:

    Written in the 1850s, parts of this classic text are a little dated, but mostly it remains surprisingly relevant to the modern world Probably it s most famous for its second chapter, where Mill gives an impassioned defence of free speech It s noticeable that he sees social pressure as ainsidious threat to free speech than government legislation How relevant is the quote below to the modern phenomenon of the social media mob there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevai Written in the 1850s, parts of this classic text are a little dated, but mostly it remains surprisingly relevant to the modern world Probably it s most famous for its second chapter, where Mill gives an impassioned defence of free speech It s noticeable that he sees social pressure as ainsidious threat to free speech than government legislation How relevant is the quote below to the modern phenomenon of the social media mob there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling against the tendency of society to impose, by means other than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them The free speech chapter is the best argued part of the book, and it s beyond my ability to summarise it accurately in a review Perhaps for me the most persuasive argument, was that anyone who refuses to allow another s opinion to be voiced does so because they assume their own certainty represents absolute certainty, therefore All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility In the third chapter, on individuality, Mill once again reveals his strong aversion to conformity, and he condemns the tendency of people to comply with social expectations rather than follow their own nature In this chapter he raises what later became known as the Needham Question why was it that China, once so powerful, had become so weak Mill thought the decline was caused by an over rigid enforcement of custom A people, it appears, may be progressive for a certain length of time, and then stop when does it stop When it ceases to possess individuality I found this a little tendentious, but overall the chapter still has much to commend it.In Chapter IV, Mill considers the proper limits of government power He had a deep suspicion of government, something he shared with most educated Britons of his era In the book he strongly opposes government interference with trade and industry, beyond basic requirements such as preventing fraud or maintaining hygiene He also opposes the idea, commonly accepted in Europe today, that governments should intervene to protect people from themselves For Mill, if someone wanted to drink or gamble to excess, or smoke opium that was their business Governments and charities could attempt to educate people into taking a different path but could not compel them to do so He does however argue for compulsory schooling of children, which was not in place at the time In modern terms libertarianism is probably the philosophy that best matches Mill s classic liberalism, and that philosophy is better preserved in the United States than in Mill s native England A supremely eloquent essay though I ve probably markedhighlights in this book than any other I ve read


  6. Jonfaith Jonfaith says:

    Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained.It would be pretentious to suggest I dedicated my reading to Ahmed Merabet, yet it would be untrue to exclaim otherwise We ve drowned in debate about liberty this last week Somehow I regard that as most encouraging I found Mill s treatise riveting and incisive Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained.It would be pretentious to suggest I dedicated my reading to Ahmed Merabet, yet it would be untrue to exclaim otherwise We ve drowned in debate about liberty this last week Somehow I regard that as most encouraging I found Mill s treatise riveting and incisive along a number of axes which inform our means of government and private life Mill was a shrewd historian and a brilliant writer I gasped audibly at his conclusions and deft references Too often Utilitarianism is wedged into confined spaces for politically conservative purposes I have no problem with that I suspect J.S Mill wouldn t either His moral remains, we should all disagree, question custom and exercise our faculties at every turn


  7. T T says:

    A fundamental text in the Philosophical canon, but we still mustn t overlook the overt imperialism, naivety and intellectualism which seeps throughout these pages


  8. Valdimar Valdimar says:

    MILL the only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own wayME Yes GoodMILL so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain itME Great Go on keep em cominMILL..therefore NeoliberalismME No


  9. Rosie Nguyễn Rosie Nguyễn says:

    The book is so great that whenever being asked about it, I m just speechless, restless, wondering how to give the right word It s not easy to read, and not easy to make a review I keep delaying to note my thoughts about it, partly afraid I m not good enough to comment on such a masterpiece Yet I try, for my own record, for my later review on this review, and for the future reflection.On Liberty is an excellent work on human rights and individual s relationship with society What scores here i The book is so great that whenever being asked about it, I m just speechless, restless, wondering how to give the right word It s not easy to read, and not easy to make a review I keep delaying to note my thoughts about it, partly afraid I m not good enough to comment on such a masterpiece Yet I try, for my own record, for my later review on this review, and for the future reflection.On Liberty is an excellent work on human rights and individual s relationship with society What scores here is that the author defines an explicit boundary between one s freedom and community s interference into one s choice of lifestyle That gives reader, especially young readers, an affirmation, a clear vision, on how to lead their lives This book is so rightful, so distinctive, so cohesive, I m overwhelmed by the vastness and integrity of the arguments.It s not an easy book to read, as said But it should not be omitted in any bookshelf just for the mere ease of mind of the bookshelf owner It s a real hard mental labor For this reason, I would recommend this book to any friend who takes a good care of his mind and intellectual


  10. Capsguy Capsguy says:

    It s amazing how it appears as if the older the work, therelevant it is to today Sure, this is anything but old in comparison to Socrates and other writers, but this over 150 year old document still serves well today, definitely worth the few hours reading and I recommend it to everyone.It is logically structured and written with ease of reading and understanding without the sacrifice of the quality of his argument.As mentioned by Mill, he s not necessarily bringing anything new to the It s amazing how it appears as if the older the work, therelevant it is to today Sure, this is anything but old in comparison to Socrates and other writers, but this over 150 year old document still serves well today, definitely worth the few hours reading and I recommend it to everyone.It is logically structured and written with ease of reading and understanding without the sacrifice of the quality of his argument.As mentioned by Mill, he s not necessarily bringing anything new to the table, just offering the argument in amodernistic view.Of course some things aren t as applicable today that he had argued for, but I am sure if he was alive today, and now almost 200 years ago, than his arguments would reflect the day and age we live in now This is something that the reader should take into consideration when reading aged texts, tha the applicability or viability may differ from the changes in time However the overall argument is still a highly debatable issue, especially in the past few years in post 9 11