On Liberty is a philosophical work in the English language by 19th century philosopher John Stuart Mill, first published in 1859. To the Victorian readers of the time it was a radical work, advocating moral and economic freedom of individuals from the state.
Perhaps the most memorable point made by Mill in this work, and his basis for liberty, is that "Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign". Mill is compelled to say this in opposition to what he calls the "tyranny of the majority", wherein through control of etiquette and morality, society is an unelected power that can do horrific things. Mill's work could be considered a reaction to this social control by the majority and his advocacy of individual decision-making over the self. The famous 'Harm Principle' is also articulated in this work: people can do anything they like as long as it does not harm others. All branches of liberalism - as well as other political ideologies - consider this to be one of their core principles. However, they often disagree on what exactly constitutes harm.
On Liberty was an enormously influential work; the ideas presented within it remain the basis of much political thought since. Aside from the popularity of the ideas themselves, it is quite short and its themes easily accessible to a non-expert. (Quote from wikipedia.org)
About the Author
John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)
John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 - 8 May 1873), British philosopher, political economist, civil servant and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was a teacher of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by his godfather, Jeremy Bentham, although his conception of it was very different from Bentham's.
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Published in 1859, this essay by British philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill (1806-73) remains a major influence upon liberal political thought today. In this work, Mill defines liberty as an absolute individual right, and defends freedom of speech as a necessary condition of social and intellectual progress.From the Publisher:
Together, these two essays mark the philosophic cornerstone of democratic morality and represent a thought-provoking search for the true balance between the rights of the individual and the power of the state. Thoroughly schooled in the principles of the utilitarian movement founded by Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill nevertheless brings his own unique intellectual energy to issues such individual freedom, equality, authority, happiness, justice, and virtue. On Liberty is Mill's famous examination of the nature of individuality and its crucial role in any social system that expected to remain creative and vital. Utilitarian brilliantly expounds a pragmatic ethic based on one controversial proposition: actions are right only if they promote the common good and wrong if they do not. While much of Mill's thinking was eventually adopted by socialists, it is in today's democratic societies--with their troubling issues of crime, freedom of speech, and the boundaries of personal liberty--that his work resounds most powerfully.
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Book Description Forgotten Books, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1605069906