A Blupete Biography Page

QUOTES, A Supplement To
John Stuart Mill

§ "Jeremy Bentham and Samuel Taylor Coleridge the two great seminal minds of England in their age." ("Bentham," 1838.)

§ "The despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement." [And this is where Mill went wrong.]

§ "That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time."

Free Speech:-
§ "We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still." (On Liberty, ch. 2.)

Government Power:-
§ "... the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or to forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because in the opinions of others to do so would be wise or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him , or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to someone else." (On Liberty, ch. 1.)

§ "Instead of the function of governing, for which it is radically unfit, the proper office of a representative assembly is to watch and control the government." (Dissertations and Discussions, 1859.)

§ "Liberty consists in doing what one desires." (On Liberty, ch. 5.)
§ "The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self-protection." (On Liberty, introduction.)
§ "If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind." (On Liberty, ch. 2.)
§ "The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people." (On Liberty, ch. 3.)
§ "Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called." (On Liberty, ch. 3)

§ "Human existence is girt round with mystery; the narrow region of our experiences is a small island in the midst of a boundless sea." (Utility of Religion, 1874.)

Right to be Let Alone:-
§ "The individual is not accountable to society for his actions, insofar as these concern the interests of no person but himself." (On Liberty, ch. 5.)

§ The Argument of the Socialist as put by Mill:
"... There is no greater assumption of infallibility in forbidding the propagation of error, than in any other thing which is done by public authority on its own judgment and responsibility. Judgment is given to men that they may use it. Because it may be used erroneously, are men to be told that they ought not to use it at all? To prohibit what they think pernicious, is not claiming exemption from error, but fulfilling the duty incumbent on them, although fallible, of acting on their conscientious conviction. If we were never to act on our opinions, because those opinions may be wrong, we should leave all our interests uncared for, and all our duties unperformed . An objection which applies to all conduct can be no valid objection to any conduct in particular. It is the duty of governments, and of individuals, to form the truest opinions they can; to form them carefully, and never impose them upon others unless they are quite sure of being right. But when they are sure (such reasoners may say), it is not conscientiousness but cowardice to shrink from acting on their opinions, and allow doctrines which they honestly think dangerous to the welfare of mankind, either in this life or in another, to be scattered abroad without restraint, because other people, in less enlightened times, have persecuted opinions now believed to be true. Let us take care, it may be said, not to make the same mistake: but governments and nations have made mistakes in other things, which are not denied to be fit subjects for the exercise of authority: they have laid on bad taxes, made unjust wars. Ought we therefore to lay on no taxes, and, under whatever provocation, make no wars? Men, and governments, must act to the best of their ability. There is no such thing as absolute certainty, but there is assurance sufficient for the purposes of human life. We may, and must, assume our opinion to be true for the guidance of our own conduct: and it is assuming no more when we forbid bad men to pervert society by the propagation of opinions which we regard as false and pernicious."
§ The Argument of the Socialist as countered by Mill:
"I answer, that it is assuming very much more. There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation. Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right."

§ "Everyone who receives the protection of society owes a return for the benefit." (On Liberty, ch. 4.)

Wise Words:-
§ "He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that." (On Liberty, ch. 2.)
§ "The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing when it is no longer doubtful is the cause of half their errors." (On Liberty, ch. 2.)

GO TO PAGE ON Thomas Hobbes

Found this material Helpful?

Peter Landry
Custom Search