On Liberty (1859), of the most important documents of political liberalism, appeared in the same year that Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published. On Liberty is a rational justification of the freedom of the individual in opposition to the claims of the state to impose unlimited control and is thus a defence of the rights of the individual against the state. This work contained Mill’s principle that only self-protection can justify either the state’s tampering with the liberty of the individual or any personal interference with another’s freedom — particularly with respect to freedom of thought and discussion. (Eugene Lee, University Scholars Program, National University of Singapore).
Published in 1859, John Stuart Mill s On Liberty presented one of the most eloquent defenses of individual freedom in nineteenth-century social and political philosophy and is today perhaps the most widely-read liberal argument in support of the value of liberty. Mill s passionate advocacy of spontaneity, individuality, and diversity, along with his contempt for compulsory uniformity and the despotism of popular opinion, has attracted both admiration and condemnation.
“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.” (John Stuart Mill, 1859)”
About the Author:
John Stuart Mill was born in a suburb of London on May 20, 1806. By the age of ten he was reading classical authors in the original Greek and Latin, was proficient in history, algebra, and geometry, and soon after began to study logic, political economy, and law. He was elected to Parliament in 1865 and held the Radical seat for Westminster for the next three years. Mill died in Avignon, France, on May 7, 1873.
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