Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Liberty vs. Authority according to John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
On May 8, 1873, British Philosopher John Stuart Mill died, maybe the most influential english-speaking philosopher of the 19th century. His views still are significance today and are generally recognized to be among the deepest and certainly the most effective defenses of empiricism and of a liberal political view of society and culture. His overall aim was to develop a positive view of the universe and the place of humans in it, one which contributes to the progress of human knowledge, individual freedom and human well-being. In his general views he was deeply influenced by John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume, as well as of Jeremy Bentham's utilitarianism.
"A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about 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." (John Stuart Mill, Dissertations and Discussions, vol.1 p. 26)
BTW, the story goes that Mill has been some extraordinary child. By the age of three Mill started reading original Greek texts (as well as English).  By eight years old he was reading Latin and had translated several works into English.  By twelve he had completed an extensive study of classical literature, history, mathematics, and logic.  Thus, it is little wonder that his natural genius flourished.

At yovisto, you might start listening to John Stuart Mills philosophical work with Prof. Ivan Szelenyi's lecture on 'Utilitarianism and Liberty, John Stuart Mill' from his lecture 'Foundations of Modern Social Theory':

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