Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

John Stuart Mill and Liberty

Essay type Research
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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 impression on England telling the people that they do no have to give in to the pressures, and they should do what they want as long as it doesn’t harm others liberties.

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He believed that people had the ability to make the right choice over the wrong one and he also helped support feminism, perhaps due to the influence of his wife.He believed that those who were knowledgable, should be able to vote, no matter their gender. He preached a need for compulsory education, and he believed that society should step in if laws are ineffective. When in Parliament, he also had bold beliefs in Capital Punishment and the death penalty because he believed that the only way to limit the number of murders, was to make the punishment equal. What John Stuart Mill wanted to see in England was progression, he wanted to simply leave England better then found it, and he beliefs and ideas are still around today. Opinion I thought that this was a very interesting article.Prior to reading this, I had no knowledge of John Stuart Mill and as I was reading, I started to realize that a lot of his beliefs and ideas are ones that are still around today.

The article was well written and easy and understandable to read and gave some great insight on a very influential philosopher. The whole relationship that he had with Harriet Taylor was pretty interesting, and the fact that she had such a large influence in his writings was interesting. This was still a time when men were superior to women, and it seems as if Taylor “wore the pants” in their marriage.She was able to get him to delete the criticisms on Socialism and Communism so she obviously had influence. From reading the article, it seems that John Stuart Mill was a very interesting man who had very logical beliefs that I would agree with, and I think it is safe to say that he influenced many future philosophers. I do think a better title could have been used, because the given title is very dull and boring, but all in all, it was a very informative article that gave me necessary information on what appears to be a very influential man in society.

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Cite this page

John Stuart Mill and Liberty. (2019, Feb 23). Retrieved from

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