Mill vs Dostoevsky

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“For what is freedom? That one has the will to assume responsibility for oneself.” (Nietzsche. Twilight of the Idols. Trans. Hollingdale. Sect. 38). Everyone desires freedom but everyone cannot handle the responsibilities of freedom. I will compare J.S. Mill’s views on the social function of freedom with that of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s characters from both, the novel Notes From Underground and the excerpt; The Grand Inquisitor, also drawing supplementary arguments from Friedrich Nietzsche, while expressing my views alongside. Mill’s core assumption of man is that he is a rational being who will strive to maximize his own utility. “I regard utility as the ultimate appeal… on the permanent interests of man as a progressive being.” (Mill. On Liberty. Trans. Rapaport. 10). He believes man is naturally geared towards good. He believes man will always act towards his own advantage. He believes, if allowed to, man will only move in one direction; forward. Mill believes that human development and therefore the overall progression of society is best fostered in an atmosphere of complete freedom. This is a very optimistic assumption that does not dig deep into the human psyche. His model of a utopian society does not accommodate someone with a more complex, ambivalent psyche, such as that of the “Underground Man”. An irrational man. A man who will act against his own self interest. A man who is constantly at war with himself. A more realistic version of man. Mill views pleasure and happiness as being the same. “…that pleasure, and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends; and that all desirable things are desirable either for the pleasure inherent in themselves, or as means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain.” ( Mill. Utilitarianism. 10). He does not acknowledge that pain and misery may actually bring about happiness, this is one of the major flaws in his principle. “… the enjoyment here consisted precisely in the hyperconsciousness...
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