John Stuart Mill and Liberty

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“John Stuart Mill and Liberty”

John Stuart Mill was one of the leading philosophers in the Victorian Age of England. Mill believed in Liberalism where society was best served by the maximum number of people being free with minimal government. He was born into a comfortable home in London in 1806 in a time when the Industrial Revolution was transforming England. Mill had no formal education and practiced no religion but was was schooled at home in order to become a perfect utilitarian. This led Mill to become very independent and get his first job as a clerk by the age of 17. He was known as a radical reformer, and suffered through a depression at the age of 20 which he bounced back by reading poetry. His ideas were influenced by his desire to combine the virtues of rationalism and romanticism. Mill met his “soul mate” Harriet Taylor at the age of 23, and although she was already married with kids, they continued their relationship until Taylor’s husband died and they went on to get married. Mill credits Taylor with influencing his writings as seen in Principles of Political Economy where he not only dedicates the book to her, but also titles it as a “joint production”. In the first couple editions of the book, Mill criticize Socialism and communism, but after Harriet was won over by anti monarchial revolts, Mill deleted those criticism. Mill and “Harriet’s” most significant work lies in 1859’s On Liberty. Here, Mill differs his ideas from the liberal traditions of John Milton and John Locke. He attacked the idea of a “single truth”, he acknowledged the isolated man standing away from the large social body and in his other writing Utilitarianism, Mill stated that liberty is part of a mans social state. During Mill’s time, there were very little constraints on the state, and all individuals felt constant pressure from other members of society. Mill expressed the need for granting liberty of opinion and expression, and for that reason, he left a lasting...
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